Miso soup is a marvel: Quick is not even the word. By the time it comes to a boil, it’s done, a whole pot full. It’s also an incredibly nutritious and versatile low-calorie treat. I am giving you here a basic recipe, but I am including as many variations as I can think of, and let you play with it and get another exciting soup each time. It will all be ready as soon as it comes to a boil. The miso, ginger, toasted sesame oil, bottled hot sauce, and scallions are a constant with all variations. You may never go back to the Chinese-restaurant variety, unless you do (as I do from time to time) order it to your specifications: First, make sure it has no MSG. Then, no canned veggies please! Banish the canned baby corn, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. Who needs them? Instead, spread the fresh good stuff thick: fresh mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, snow peas, and so on.
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced thin
1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu, cut in small cubes
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves only, cut into ribbons
1 cup miso paste, dark for a stronger taste, white for a milder taste
2-inch piece ginger, grated
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon bottled hot sauce, or more to taste
4 scallions, sliced very thin
Bring all but last ingredient to a boil, then turn off the flame. Stir in the scallions. Serve hot. Makes a dozen ample servings. variations:
Choose from sliced celery, sliced zucchini, sliced carrots, frozen corn kernels, sliced nappa cabbage,
sliced bok choy, etc. Nothing canned whatsoever please! Proceed as above. Throw in a nice handful or two of rice noodles or soba noodles, left whole (get ready for slurping) or cut into smaller pieces (no slurping).Proceed as above.
Throw in a handful of seaweed: crumbled nori, wakame, arame, hijiki. Proceed as above.
Include 3–4 cups either cubed chicken breasts or fish: They will cook in the same time the soup does. Proceed as above. Add bright green vegetables such as snow peas, spinach leaves, watercress leaves, asparagus sections, broccoli spears, or string beans all the way at the end of cooking, after the soup comes to a boil, so that they retain their bright color Throw in a 15-ounce can of coconut milk for a richer soup. Proceed as above. Throw in a cup of sake for added punch. Proceed as above.