I should never be surprised by the things my mom knows how to make off the top of my head, but once in a while I am. I guess miso soup isn’t very complicated. But I had been daydreaming about it, and mentioned it to my mom, and the she rattled off her recipe, step by step, and I went out and made it. Miraculous and easy. The years of macrobiotics pay off.

Obviously one of the beauties of miso soup is that you can put whatever you want in there. But I am very partial to this combination of things, and think you should try it. I know miso soup is supposed to be simple, and this one isn’t really. But it’s mealtime miso. Really savory and satisfying but also healthy as all get out–I don’t say that much but this soup fits the bill. And also simple. No sauteing. One pot. Lasts for days.

Miso Soup with Udon and Greens
serves four hungry people who like 2 bowls of soup each

2 pieces of kombu (approx. 1″ by 4″)
a knob of ginger, about tablespoon sized, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 C dried shiitake pieces, soaked in 1 C warm water (optional)

1/3 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. dried udon noodles
1/2 C light yellow miso paste
2 bunches spinach, stemmed, washed, and roughly chopped
12 oz. silken tofu, cubed
4 scallions, finely sliced

sesame oil, for serving

First you make the stock, which is flavored with seaweed, ginger and mushrooms. I soak the mushrooms separately though because they can be gritty. So in a big pot, add the kombu and ginger to 8 C water and bring to a boil. Fish the soaked shiitake pieces out of their warm water bath, finely chop them, and add them to the pot along with the shiitake soaking water, pouring slowly to make sure that any residual grit doesn’t make its way into the pot. Cover, turn the heat off, and let sit for at least an hour (I usually do this in the morning or early afternoon). After an hour, fish out the kombu and slice it very thinly, then add it back to the stock.

When you’re ready for soup, add the fresh sliced shiitakes to the stock and bring to a boil. Add the udon noodles, bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook according to package directions. When the udon is done, ladle some of the stock into a bowl and add the miso. Whisk to combine, then dump back into the pot. (This is easier than chasing lumps of miso paste around the pot of soup.) Add the spinach and tofu and stir very carefully until the greens are just wilted. Turn off the heat, stir in the scallions, and serve with a little anointing of sesame oil.

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