I was fortunate enough to find white miso paste and wakame while strolling around Ruby's Market in nearby Springfield. I had not made miso soup since moving here in 2015, and I was craving it something fierce. This week's cooler temperatures was a perfect time to put a plan into action.
So, What is Miso Paste?
Miso paste is used in Japanese cuisine in a very similar way that we use boullion paste in soups, stews and gravies. Miso is a salty concentrate of soybeans, grains, and a starter culture, called koji, that is fermented for a relatively short period of time. It is considered a health food due to its vitamin and mineral content as well as its traditional uses for a number of health conditions.
Wakame is a type of dark green seaweed used in Japanese cuisine that is highly sustainable due to its invasive nature, and loaded with chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals like iodine. It's been used as a health food for weight control, cholesterol management, and energy boosting abilities. The high chlorophyll content comes out in the flavor as does its ocean home with a mild saltiness. If you are not used to eating seaweed, the texture can throw people off as it is almost gelatinous when rehydrated. However, this blends beautifully in miso soup giving it a nice balance of flavors and textures.
For me, miso soup is an Asian comfort food. It is something that I can put in a big mug then curl up with a blanket and a good movie/book, or it is a perfect way to start off a Japanese themed dinner party to make everyone feel at home. This loaded spicy version has enough bulk to give it main meal status, but is still exciting (and unexpected) for guests as a first course.
Loaded Spicy Miso Soup
- 6 cups water (or 4 cups water plus 2 cups stock for a richer flavor)
- 1/4 cup miso paste (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp The Spice & Tea Exchange™ Togarashi Pepper Spice
- 3 Tbsp dried wakame seaweed
- 14 oz package of firm tofu, drained and cubed
- 2 stalks thinly sliced green onion
- 2-3 Sliced Shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- Add water, miso paste and togarashi pepper spice to large pot and bring to a boil stirring to dissolve paste.
- Add wakame seaweed and tofu.
- Turn down heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat, stir in green onion, and serve.