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Mushroom and Silken Tofu in Dashi-Miso Broth

27 Jul

I’ve made this soup a couple of times now, and each time we enjoy it more than the last.  It is excellent both with and without noodles – the long, springy enoki’s add enough of a “noodle-y” texture, but it’s definitely pumped up to a full meal with the addition of the ramen.  This soup is reminiscent of a simple miso soup, but the added fire-y heat of the sriracha and plethora of meaty mushrooms makes it more interesting and more substantial.

This soup is incredibly easy and the “hardest” part is separating all the mushrooms from one another.  Mostly, you just boil water and throw a bunch of ingredients in a stock pot.  Still, the deep umami of the dashi, miso, and mushrooms, spice of the sriracha, fresh crunch of the scallions, and wonderful textures of the mushrooms combine in a way that makes this soup taste like it should have been a lot more work than it was.  The unique combination of flavors and textures is addictive, leading to inevitably licked-clean bowls.

Mushroom and Silken Tofu in Dashi-Miso Broth

1 block silken tofu, cut into large chunks

8 cups water

8 tsp. dashi powder

2 1/2 tbs. white miso

1 tsp. canola oil

1 package enoki mushrooms, separated

1 package white beech mushrooms, separated

1/3 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 tbs. soy sauce

2 tbs. sriracha

Freshly cracked black pepper

2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish

Ramen noodles, cooked, for serving (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a rolling boil.  Whisk in dashi and miso until no more clumps remain. Cover and reduce to a simmer.

In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, soy sauce, and sriracha.  Stir well to distribute the soy sauce and sriracha.  Cook 3-4 minutes until mushrooms and beginning to tender.

Carefully add chunks of silken tofu.  Pour miso-dashi broth over the tofu and mushrooms.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Serve immediately, placing cooked ramen noodles in the bowl first and ladeling soup over.  Garnish with scallions.

Udon Noodle Soup with Miso-Dashi Broth

7 Apr

Do you go through food phases?  I know I certainly do.  I’ll go through a stretch where I can’t get enough of Tex-Mex or Southwestern food, switch over to string of Midwest comfort classics, and then switch gears into some Asian fare.  Clearly, I’ve been in a bit of an Asian mode recently, probably thanks to my obsessively reading novels set in Japan.  Since I just finished Kafka on the Shore, maybe I should switch to something set in the Southwest or Latin America so I can stick to my menu plan, which includes enchiladas.

It’s pretty hard to want to get out of the Asian-arena, though, after you make something as easy and delicious as this soup.  The miso and dashi base of this soup is extremely flavorful and light.  The vegetables provide a nice mix of colors and textures.  Udon noodles have a slightly chewy texture that worked really well here.

Udon Noodle Soup with Dashi Broth

1 lb. udon noodles

6 cups water

3 tsp. instant dashi

2 tbs. white miso

3 cups baby bok choy, rinsed clean

2 cups oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 cup enoki mushrooms

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

Bring water to a boil.  Add dashi and miso paste and whisk to combine.  Return to a boil and add udon noodles.  Cook 2-3 minutes until noodles are al dente.  Add  bok choy, both types of mushrooms, and carrot.  Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Serve immediately.

Spicy Ginger and Miso Soup with Sea Kelp

20 Mar

I was faced with a culinary conundrum – the weather had been crazy, bouncing from the 40s to the 30s to the 70s (what the hell, Mother Nature?!  It’s March in Cleveland, not that I’m complaining … ).  It left me with a pretty serious cold while the weather felt like mid-June.  Ugh.  I needed a dish that was comforting and nourishing for my stupid sniffles but not heavy enough to be off-putting in the warm weather.  So, taking stock of my pantry, I conceptualized this dish.

Ginger and sea kelp in particular are touted for their health benefits.  And, luckily for me, they both have flavors that I can’t get enough of.  Ginger is bright-tasting with a kick of spice, while kelp has a delicious umami flavor that conjures up tones of the ocean.  Miso is also quite healthy in spite of its high sodium content, and I simply can’t get enough of the salty-savory flavor of soy sauce and the heat of a chili pepper. Combining all of these delicious, nutritious ingredients together and adding a hint of lemon and scallion seemed like a no brainer (and it probably was, because my sniffy nose and low fever were making deep thinking exceptionally difficult for me).

Each of the flavors in this soup is relatively mild, though the spice asserts itself nicely.  Zak said it reminded him of a miso soup (which makes sense, as it’s a soup with miso in it).  The miso is lighter than in a traditional miso soup, and the ginger takes the place of the dashi.  The kelp adds a nice savory oceanic flavor.  This soup was just what the doctor ordered, because the flavors were really light but it was still warm and comforting.  Sadly, it did not cure my head cold, which is still going strong several days later.  Boo.  For something with a bit more heft and substance, add some cubes of firm tofu or noodles as desired.

Spicy Ginger Broth Soup with Sea Kelp

1 tsp. canola oil

1 6″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and dark green parts separated

1/2 lemon

5-6 3″ x 3″ pieces seasoned dried sea kelp

1 tsp. soy sauce

3 tbs. white miso

1 tsp. dried Korean chili flakes

Soak sea kelp in 1 cup of warm water for at least an hour.

Add canola oil to a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and whites of scallions.  Sauté until garlic and ginger are lightly golden brown.  Add 8 cups of water and lemon.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer.  Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, drain sea kelp, reserving soaking liquid.

Strain garlic, ginger, and scallions and return broth to medium stock pot.  Heat over medium heat to a simmer.  Add sea kelp and soy sauce.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk miso with 1/2 cup of reserved soaking liquid from sea kelp.  Reduce heat on broth to low and whisk in miso.  Add red chile flakes.  Taste for seasonings and add soy sauce, miso, additional kelp soaking liquid, or chile flakes as necessary.

Serve immediately, garnished with dark green scallion pieces.

Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)

5 Mar

When I saw this recipe on Serious Eats a couple of weeks back, I knew immediately I wanted to make it.  I think my mouth started watering.  I may have drooled on my keyboard in Legal Profession (though that might have been from the nap I was probably taking only moments before).  I don’t know exactly what about the recipe made me want it so badly, but I knew a trip to the Asian market was going to be in order shortly after I returned from my moot court competition.  It just looked spicy and pungent and warm and comforting and delicious.

I do not have much experience with Korean food, so I could not find gochujang in the Asian market.  We asked the really helpful lady but she didn’t know where it was, either, and I couldn’t remember if it was a spice or a sauce (it’s a sauce).  So after aimlessly wandering around the aisles for awhile we gave up and figured I could either find a substitute (which I did, check for the recipe below) or simply do without.

Zak was a little dubious about this dish because he is not a fan of kimchi, but we were both very pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor in this recipe.  The kimchi adds a subtle layer of fermented flavor that forms the base for the salty umami of the sea kelp, anchovy, soy sauce, and fish sauce and plays well with the spicy chiles.  The tofu and egg mellow out the spice and kimchi a little bit as well as add some substance to the stew.  Zak, who has been to Korea, says it has very authentic flavors, which I consider a victory.

Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)

Korean Soft Tofu Stew:

Adapted from Serious Eats – J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

1 2″ square piece dried sea kept (kombu)

2-3 anchovies, finely minced

1 cup kimchi with juice

2 tsp. canola oil

3 scallions, white and green parts separated

2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1 tbs. gochujang (the original recipe calls for this) or 1 tbs. gochujang substitute (see below)

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

2-3 tbs. Korean dried chili flakes (crushed red pepper can be substitued)

12 oz. soft silken tofu, roughly broken

2 eggs

Combine sea kelp and anchovies in a small sauce pan and cover with 2-3 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat immediately.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Strain, discarding solids and reserving broth.

Meanwhile, drain kimchi over a small bowl to reserve liquid.  Squeeze to remove as much liquid as  possible.  Roughly chop the kimchi and reserve the kimchi and juice separately.

Heat canola oil in a medium stock pot over medium high heat.  Add scallion whites, garlic, and chopped kimchi.  Cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant.

Add kimchi juice, gochujang or gochujang substitute, soy sauce, and fish sauce.  Cook until all vegetables are coated in an even layer of sauce.  Add strained broth, Korean chili flakes, and tofu.  Stirring gently, cook until boiling.  Taste for seasonings and add more chili or soy sauce, as necessary.

Remove from heat.  Add eggs and sprinkle with scallion greens.  Carefully stir eggs into broth (or spoon broth over the top).  Serve immediately.

Gochujang substitute:

Adapted from

1 tbs. sriracha

2 tsp. miso paste

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Water, if necessary

Add all ingredients except water to a small boil.  Whisk together to form a paste.    If not coming together, add a small splash of water.  Let sit at least half an hour at room temperature.  Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Soup

21 Jan

Yesterday at work, I started getting that slight soreness of the throat and buzzing in my head that is a big fat red flag for an oncoming cold.  Not surprising, considering the crazy way the weather has been snapping between freezing and snowy and forty and rainy.  Needless to say, once I got home from work (and trying on my wedding dress for the first time!!!!), I was in the mood for something comforting to chase away the sniffles.  Few things are more comforting to me than some yummy roasted garlic.  This soup has an absolute abundance of garlic.  The flavors are very rich, amped up a few notches by the sweetness of some caramelized onions.  The cannellini beans added a creamy texture and some filling body.  As an added bonus, this fills the house with really intoxicating aromas while the garlic is roasting, onions are caramelized, and soup is simmering.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 1999

4 heads garlic, outermost papery skin removed

1 tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on garlic

2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

3 cups beef stock

1 cup water

1 cup canned cannellini beans

2-3 tbs. finely grated Parmesan cheese

4 lemon wedges

Parsley, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut the top 1/8″ off 3 heads of garlic.  Place each on a small square of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.  Seal the garlic in tinfoil packets.  Place on a baking sheet and put in oven.  Roast 45 minutes or until the garlic cloves are deep golden brown.  Let cool until cool enough to handle and remove cloves.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium stock pot.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Add roasted garlic, thyme, remaining head of garlic cloves (peeled) and cannellini beans.  Add stock and water and cover.  Simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree, working in batches if necessary.  Raise heat to medium high and simmer another 15 minutes  or so until reduced to desired consistency.

Serve with Parmesan cheese, lemon wedges, and parsley.

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