Miserly Miso Mushroom Soup

By • May 17, 2011 • 15 Comments



Author Notes: I've been doing a lot of thinking these past couple of days about what makes a recipe dirt cheap. It couldn't just be the cost of the ingredients, or the time it takes to put together (usually in inverse proportion). There had to be something more. The answer came to me yesterday morning when I pulled in to the gas station to fill up the car -- $57!! For a Honda Civic!! Wow. Those 40-mile round trippers to Whole Foods or the Asian market or Williams-Sonoma in search of a single ingredient or a new pot can really add up. (Let me go all caps here: You New York City dwellers are SO LUCKY to have public transportation!) Anyway, I turned around, went home, tore apart the pantry and dug deep into the fridge, and this is one of the things I came up with. I had the kelp and the bonita flakes for the dashi (very cheap) and the dried mushrooms (not so cheap, but they go a long way) from testing other recipes, and the ginger, scallions, carrots and cabbage were sitting in the crisper, looking lonely. OK, I had to get the tofu, but I walked to the store for that.wssmom

Serves 6

  • grapeseed oil
  • handful of green onions, sliced thinly
  • a small chunk (about half the size of your thumb) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a big knife
  • 1 1/2 quarts of water
  • 3 square pieces dried kelp (kombu)
  • 1/3 cup bonita flakes
  • 1/2 cup (or more if you have it) assorted dried mushrooms
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thinly (as for cole slaw)
  • 6 slender young carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup white miso
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, cut in cubes
  1. Heat a large, heavy pot and film the bottom with the grapeseed oil. Toss in half the green onions (mostly the white part), the ginger and the garlic and saute over medium heat for a minute or so, or until beginning to soften.
  2. Rinse off the kelp to remove stray sand or bits of shell. Add to the pot along with the water and the bonita flakes. Turn up the heat and watch carefully - just before it hits boiling, turn down the heat. Let it sit on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Put the dried mushrooms in a large bowl, and strain the broth over them. Discard the fixings, and let the mushrooms rehydrate for 20 minutes or so. Strain the soup back into the pot and dice up the mushrooms. Add to the pot along with the miso, cabbage and carrots (if you have some fresh mushrooms handy, you can add them too) and let simmer for 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender
  4. Divide the tofu into serving bowls, ladle the soup over, and top with the remaining scallions. (David Lieberman has a lovely recipe for Asian Mushroom Soup in which he calls for a bit of dark sesame oil to be drizzled over the top. I didn't have any, and I stopped myself from driving to the store to get some, but if you have some, go for it!)
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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Made it this evening, using doenjang instead of miso and throwing in a handful of sugar snaps. Also, lightly fried the tofu cubes as Mr T prefers it that way (as do I). Added a dash of Japanese brown rice vinegar just before serving. And some lo mein for Mr T. Served with some beautiful yu choy that I quickly sauteed with some slivers of garlic. (Used the stems from the yu choy to start some Chinese preserved vegetable, thanks to instructions from BeijingRose.) Such a great dinner! Outstanding recipe, wssmom. I'll certainly be making it again . . . soon. ;o)

Flower-bee

over 1 year ago Droplet

Love your wit, wssmom.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love this. . . . Will be making it this week with doenjang (Korean miso -- tastes so much better, perhaps due to the excellent salt they have there). ;o)

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almost 3 years ago Qdrake

Oh no! Don't discard the Konbu! Shake any moisture off of it back into the pot then put it on a plate and let it dry. It can be reused for dashi several times before you need to ditch it. Consult a macrobiotic cook book for more info. You do need to discard the bonito though.

This sounds like a lovely soup and true, a light drizzle of dark roasted sesame oil (which I ALWAYS have) would be a perfect finisher for it. I would also recommend using a silken tofu if you are just going to ladle the soup over it. alternatively, a small pile of buckwheat somen noodles would go well in place of the tofu. I would toss them in the sesame oil then curl them into a small nest at the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup around it, then garnish with some sesame seeds and finely diced green onion. Yum that does sound good. I have all the ingredients; I may just make this today!

Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

Thanks so much; I think your suggestions are awesome and will try them next time I make the soup!

Lorigoldsby

about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

So true that cost and time can be inversely proportional to cheap cooking. But the soup looks like everything is in perfect balance!

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

Thank you, Lorigoldsby!

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Love your assessment of the meaning of cheap wssmom! And the resulting soup looks de-licious!

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

Thanks, fiveandspice!

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh you HAVE to have a bell! I have racks mounted on the back of mine (I have 2 bikes, down from 5 - long story) with saddle bags. I can actually carry several days of groceries plus a bag of dog food. Welcome to the 2-wheeled life! I bribed my daughter into riding one of her bikes more (she lives in Boulder, CO, the most bike friendly city in the US, and also has 2) by telling her I'd buy her one of those dorky baskets for it. She loves it!

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the recipe, love your title, and I'm joining you on walks (and bike rides) to the store and elsewhere. I drive a pickup, and filling it up makes me seriously nauseous.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

I am buying one of those dorky baskets (along with a bell) for my bike!

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I have a bell, but no basket! I definitely think I need one too though. I love biking to run errands - though sometimes I think the crazy drivers are going to run me right off the road.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

I am afraid that when I go to the bike store, I'll wind up with not only the baskets on the back but the big one on the front ....

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Oh no, you really should get a big basket for the front. Preferably with a big old flower or something on it! It just would make things so fun! (Okay, admittedly the back paniers are much more practical.)