Whenever I’ve over-indulged, I crave miso soup for its savory, salty simplicity. This recipe gets so much umami from the kombu broth and roasted sesame shiitakes that it’s my favorite way to prepare miso soup and is full of probiotics.
Cooking miso this way is such a sensory experience. My husband literally walked into the kitchen and was immediately transported to the sea by the wafts of kombu steam coming from the pot. There’s something really satisfying about eating seaweed. It’s so packed with minerals for building strong hair and nails, it’s a wonder that we don’t eat more seaweed in the US.
I know when it comes to choosing a miso (salty fermented bean paste), there are several to choose from so I’ll say a word about that. Chickpea or white miso is the youngest in terms of aging/fermentation so it has the mildest, sweetest flavor and is my go-to for salad dressing or miso-marinated salmon.
Red miso is aged for about 1 year and has a slightly more savory flavor profile and is more intense than a white or yellow miso. When you order miso soup from a restaurant, they most likely use either a white or red miso. If you have both, I think it would be a great idea to play with some combination of the two. Brown miso is aged for 2 years and has the most intense flavor so I wouldn’t recommend it for miso soup.
Even if you don’t think you’ll use miso paste often, it has a really long shelf life when refrigerated so if you ever need a quick way to amp up the salt and flavor profile of a recipe, you can use it in the same way that you might use bouillon.
I also just want to mention the importance of sourcing good quality kombu. Since kombu comes from the ocean, it’s important to think about how pollutants in the water impact the kombu. I recommend kombu that is sourced from the Atlantic ocean to avoid any contamination from the Fukushima nuclear spill.
Miso Soup with Kombu Broth and Roasted Sesame Shiitakes
Yield: serves 4-6
- 5 pieces kombu, approx. 5 inches long
- 8 cups water
- 2-inch piece ginger, cut into medallions
- 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/3 cup chickpea miso, white miso, or red miso
- 1 scallion, sliced thinly for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium pot, bring kombu, water, and ginger to a boil. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes uncovered.
- Meanwhile, use a pair of kitchen shears to de-stem shiitakes. Toss the stems into the pot of simmering water. Cut the mushroom caps into equal size strips and toss with sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the shiitakes out on the sheet tray and roast in the oven for 7 minutes.
- Strain kombu broth over a large bowl and set aside. When kombu is cool enough to handle, cut into rectangular strips.
- Whisk the miso paste into the kombu broth, adding the shitakes and kombu strips. Serve and garnish with scallions and salt to taste.
Notes: You can try a combination of red and white miso, but I used chickpea miso in the photos. Since miso contains living prebiotics, it’s important to add the miso after the broth is removed from the heat so as not to kill the beneficial bacteria.