Miso soup makes you feel like you’ve run, slept well, eaten healthy, and worked hard for days, even when you haven’t. There’s magic in miso. Miso is fermented soy beans, and fermentation does great things. (See wine!) A few sips in and you can feel the faint euphoric feeling sliding over you. It’s like a runner’s high. It’s like sitting by the fire on a snowy day. No wonder they slurp miso soup for breakfast in Japan.
One of the things I try to pay attention to is how food makes me feel. If it makes me feel good, I’m going all in. If it makes me feel anything but good, I usually hold back. This is a style of eating I learned while living in Italy–in Todi the summer Allie and I met, and working on farms and vineyards across the country two years later.
To make miso soup, as we have once a week since winter dropped out of the skies like a meteor, start with miso. I use a tablespoon for every cup of water, and about six cups of water for a pot of soup. Start with one cup. Fork-stir the miso in until a paste forms. Add the rest of the water (or dashi). Set the heat to medium.
Don’t let your miso reach anything more than a languid simmer. You don’t want to kill off all the miso’s heady microbial life, which contributes to the magic. Spike with ‘shrooms, tofu, carrots, radishes, scallions, or whatever you want.
And when everything is cooked, breakfast is ready. -Chris