This delicate but intensely flavored soup is like chicken soup for the Japanese soul — minus the chicken. And it's just as easy to make if you have the right ingredients.
Step 1: Put water on stove Pour the water into the pot and place it on the stove or hotplate at medium heat.
Step 2: Add konbu Break off a 4 to 6-inch piece of konbu and add it to the water.
TIP: Konbu—also known as sea cabbage or kelp—is available at most health food stores.
Step 3: Simmer & remove Simmer the konbu for 15 minutes, then remove it from the water and throw it away.
Step 4: Add bonito Add bonito flakes to the pot and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. If you prefer a more intense fish flavor, steep the flakes for 10, 15, or even 20 minutes—the longer you steep them, the stronger the flavor.
Step 5: Remove bonito With a small mesh strainer, remove the bonito flakes and discard them.
Step 6: Add tofu & wakame Add the tofu chunks and wakame and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
TIP: When making miso soup, never bring the broth to a boil—it will muddy all the distinct flavors.
Step 7: Stir miso paste & broth Ladle about a cup of the broth into a medium-sized bowl containing the miso paste, and stir with a long chopstick or spoon until it dissolves.
Step 8: Pour broth Once the miso paste is dissolved, pour the broth back in the pot and stir.
TIP: Miso paste will keep in the fridge for nearly a year; bonito flakes, wakame, and konbu will last indefinitely in the cupboard.
Step 9: Add scallions Keeping the heat on low, add the chopped scallions and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Ahhh, miso.
FACT: Miso soup is routinely served at breakfast in Japanese homes and restaurants.