I remember my grandmother serving rice, miso soup and salted fish for breakfast one morning in kitchen which was so small you could touch the counter top from where you were sitting at the table. She would get up early to make the rice and miso soup as usual and probably anything else she had left over from the day before. Even though I had not spent much time in Japan since my early years, I felt more in touch with my Japanese heritage in that moment than I have ever felt. I felt that I was part of this family, that I was these people. The pungent smells of the Japanese kitchen, the counter tops piled with Japanese condiments, and my grandmother with her back hunched over, watching us eat, are memories that I’ll always remember.
Miso soup is eaten in almost every household in Japan and is served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, usually accompanied by a bowl of steamed rice. The flavor of the broth is dominated by miso, the fermented paste of soy beans, so choose either light miso for a delicate flavor or a dark miso for a stronger flavor and darker colored soup. Good additions to this include chunks of cooked turnips, daikon, carrots, or sweet potato.
4 cups dashi stock
3 tablespoons light brown miso paste
0.1 ounces (2 tablespoons) dried wakame (seaweed) soaked in water
10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) medium firm tofu, cubed in 1 inch pieces
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Bring the dashi to a boil in a 2-quart pot. Cover, reduce heat and bring the dashi to a low simmer. Add the miso paste to the dashi a little at a time, stirring it in to prevent clumps. After adding the miso, the soup should only be brought to a simmer, not a full boil. Add the wakame and tofu. Stir the soup gently and simmer the soup for 5-10 more minutes until heated through. Divide the sliced green onions into four bowls. Pour the soup into bowls and serve hot.