Japanese Inspired Vegetable Soup

I’ve finally gotten over my cold, but unfortunately passed it on to Sam, so we’re still eating lots of soup, convinced of its healing properties. Last night I made a Japanese-inspired vegetable soup. I had some extra time, and wanted to start from a broth that was richer and more complex than my standard vegetable broth, so I began by first roasting some chopped carrots, celery, parsnip, turnip, onion, and garlic with a bit of sesame oil. As those roasted, I filled a pot with water, and added some dried wakame seaweed, letting it rehydrate, and flavor the water. I let some firm tofu drain beneath the weight of a kettle filled with water, and chopped garlic, ginger, serranos, bok choy, carrots, spinach, shitakes, thai basil, cilantro, and scallions.

When I saw that the seaweed had rehydrated, I placed it over a medium flame, and added a generous tablespoon of shiro miso, a dash of fish sauce, and a dash of bragg’s liquid aminos. When the miso dissolved, I removed my vegetables from the oven, placed them in the steamer basket that fits in my pot. I put the entire thing into the broth, and let it cook on medium-low heat for about 45 minutes. It could have gone even longer, but I was beginning to get hungry. (Generally I recommend making a broth ahead of time, so that you have it on hand for soups, risotto, etc.) I removed the steamer basket, and discarded the vegetables. I placed rinsed and drained tofu noodles back into the steamer basket, and returned it to the broth for about 5 minutes.

As the broth simmered and the noodles cooked, I cooked the pressed tofu and shitakes in a skillet with sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped ginger, garlic, and red pepper. After I’d removed the basket of steamer basket with noodles from the broth and set them aside, I added the cooked tofu and shitakes to the pot, as well as the bok choy, spinach, and carrots that I’d chopped. I let these cook for just a minute or so, and began to assemble the soup bowls. I placed noodles in each bowl, and then covered them with spoonfuls of the soup, being sure to include plenty of vegetables. I topped each bowl with bean sprouts and the basil, cilantro, serranos and scallions I’d chopped, and served them with additional soy sauce and siracha– a delicious, healthy, and hopefully healing meal.

Japanese Inspired Vegetable Soup

This soup admittedly has a lot of ingredients. Some can certainly be omitted, or something else can be substituted if you aren’t able to find something or don’t have it on hand. For example, I always have fish sauce and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos in my pantry, but you could just use soy sauce, experiment with worcestershire sauce, and/or just use extra garlic and salt for flavor. But the vegetables do go a long way, and small quantities of them are not prohibitively expensive. I also made liberal use of my steamer basket, submerging it entirely in the water that filled my stockpot, making it easy to remove vegetables from the broth, and cook noodles without need for additional pots and a separate colander.

For broth:

INGREDIENTS

vegetable soup

  • A mixture of chopped vegetables; can include odds and ends, tops of things, etc. (I used celery, carrots, a turnip, part of a parsnip, half an onion, some whole, smashed garlic cloves, and parsley)
  • Sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup Dried wakame seaweed flakes
  • 1 tablespoon shiso miso paste
  • Sliced garlic
  • Fish sauce (optional)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Heat the oven to 425. Toss the chopped vegetables with some sesame oil and place on a pan for about an hour, or until they’ve browned. (Don’t worry about preheating the oven. It’s ok to let them warm up as the oven does.)

Fill a stock pot with water, and add dried wakame seaweed flakes. Let sit for 10 minutes or so. (If making broth ahead of time, you may want to now drain these and reserve for later use. Otherwise, leave in.) Place the pot on medium heat, and add miso paste, sliced garlic, fish sauce, and liquid aminos. Let simmer.

When the roasted vegetables are ready, place in a steamer or pasta basket, and submerge in the stock pot. Let simmer for at least 45 minutes, or up to one and a half hours. Remove the vegetables from the broth and discard. Use broth as base for soup.

For soup:

INGREDIENTS

  • Roasted vegetable broth (recipe above)
  • Tofu shirataki noodles, rinsed and drainedĀ (or use rice noodles, udon– your preference)
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
  • Fresh ginger, grated
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Firm tofu, drained and pressed, cubed
  • Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • Fresh spinach, chopped
  • Bok choy, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Thai basil, chopped
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Serrano pepper, chopped
  • Bean sprouts

Place the noodles in a steamer or pasta basket. Place the broth on high heat, and submerge the basket for 3-5 minutes or until cooked. Remove from broth and set aside.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Just cover the bottom with sesame oil. Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper and cook for about two minutes. Add tofu and mushrooms and coat with oil mixture. Add additional soy sauce if necessary. Cook for three to five minutes. Add mixture to broth.

Add spinach, bok choy, and carrots to broth and let simmer for 2 minutes.

Place noodles into bowls. Cover with soup. Add cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, serranos and scallions. Season with soy sauce and siracha to taste. Serve hot and enjoy!

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