Spicy Shiitake Miso Soup with Tofu and Rayu

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Miso soup is so easy to make – just buy packets of dried miso soup or a jar of miso paste in the Asian shop. Add boiling water and pimp the soup by adding cooked mushrooms, vegetables, tofu, fish, meat or chicken. It’s one of our favourite convenience foods. We’re using shiitake mushrooms in this version. They are so good for you. There is some evidence that they can boost the immune system and may help to lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. You can use fresh or dried mushrooms and if you can’t find shiitake, use dried porcini mushrooms instead.

Serves 4

Ingredients

100g fresh shiitake mushrooms or 30g dried shiitake (or porcini), sliced finely
1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil
2 single-serve packets of dehydrated miso soup
½ to 1 teaspoon rayu (or chilli oil) to taste
1/2 pack of soft tofu, cut into small cubes
1 spring onion, finely chopped

Instructions

1. Fry the fresh shiitake mushrooms in olive oil until golden. If you are using dried mushrooms rehydrate them in boiling water for 15 minutes until they are soft and use the drained soaking liquid to make up part of the liquid you need to rehydrate the miso soup.

2. Make the miso soup according to the packet instructions (see note below if you are using miso paste instead). Add rayu or chilli oil to taste.

3. Divide the tofu and cooked shiitake between four bowls. Pour over the miso soup and sprinkle the spring onions on top of each bowl of soup.

To use miso paste instead of the packet of miso soup in the recipe, add 1-2 tablespoons of either brown or white miso paste to taste to 800ml of boiling water or hot vegetable or chicken stock instead.

What is Rayu?
Rayu is the Japanese equivalent of chilli oil. Use chilli oil if you can’t find it or don’t want to invest in another new ingredient! You’ll usually find rayu in Asian shops. It can be added to scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, salad dressings, spread on sandwiches and stirred into casseroles, stews and stir-fries.

You can find Japanese ingredients online if you haven’t got an Asian shop near you. You can buy miso soup powder in individual portion packs or in a larger tub. You can also make miso soup using miso paste which you need to store in the fridge (it keeps for months). To make a quick low-fat healthy soup add a spoon of miso (brown or white) to taste to a cup of boiling water. You can make it as strong as you like.

Miso paste is a fermented soybean paste. It should be kept in the fridge where it will keep for months. It contains beneficial bacteria, is packed with vitamins and minerals and is rich in umami flavour (that’s also true of Parmesan cheese) and is excellent for gut health. It has a deep meaty flavour even though it is vegetarian. It can be used to add flavour to soup, stocks, casseroles and noodle dishes to give the dish a depth of flavour.

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