Miso Monday.

Today is a very stiff day, in which I am confined mostly to the couch with inflammation and unbrushed hair. Fortunately, I’ve got three seasons of Sex and the City on DVD and close at hand, so even though I am stuck here, I can’t say I mind. Painkillers and television are such wonderful things when used in combination.

For sick days or lazy days or days where you can’t do much with your hands, miso soup is a great thing, easy, and only four ingredients. Five if you have scallions, but I did not. I stole this recipe, sort of, from my friend Tracy, who eats this stuff every day for lunch – when you amortize the cost of the ingredients over the length of time they’ll last for, it’s a meal you can make for literally cents and little more. It’s filling enough and good for you, too.

You can buy kelp and miso at stores like Whole Foods or at Asian markets, where it’s likely to be cheaper.

Also, the darker your miso paste, the more flavour you’ll get. I only had white miso paste (shiro miso), but I like the red stuff a lot better. But you can make do with what you’ve got, and adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your own taste.

Miso soup

(Serves one; multiply for additional servings.)

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 strip macro kelp, trimmed into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon miso paste (or to taste – if using red or black miso, use less)
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 bite-size cubes of medium-firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp. chopped green onions (optional)
  • A few drops of sesame oil (optional)

In a small pan over medium-high heat, add kelp to water and bring to a gentle boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and add miso paste. Taste as you go, adding more to taste.

When paste is dissolved and you’ve reached your desired flavour, stir in mushrooms and tofu and simmer gently, until just heated through, about two minutes.

If adding scallions and sesame oil, stir into soup just before serving. Serve with tea, or with a refreshing glass of ginger ale. And then take a nap, if you feel like it.

UPDATE: I tried this again, with two kinds of miso, and it was even more fantastic. I also sauteed the mushrooms quickly in a bit of butter and the tiniest bit of garlic before adding them to the soup, and the results were a revelation, totally serious.