So when we happened to try a new grocery store last week that had a much better Asian food aisle, I jumped at the chance to get soybean paste.
And yeah, a lot of you people on facebook were haters and wrinkled your dainty noses at my soybean paste. Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but you're wrong. It's delicious! And you've probably eaten it without knowing before.
Also last week, I saw a lot of recipes for miso soup, which is made from soybean paste. The recipe I used was easy, delicious, and took about 10 minutes total to make.
That said, I have one critical thing to say, and it's really about context. This soup is really flavorful, but not so filling. To be fair, I've never ordered it at a Japanese restaurant as an entree, but it's often a starter (or, you know, a soup). It's great when paired with a salad or sandwich or another small food of some kind. And the next time I'm sick (which, knock on wood, doesn't happen that often these days*) I'm definitely going to make this. It would be simple, warm, and flavorful.
I played with the recipe a bit, so I'll try to reflect that below.
Simple Miso Soup
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
4 cups of water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 ounces dried vermicelli noodles
4 - 6 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
2 - 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
2 cups (or more, to taste) spinach
3 green onions, tops removed thinly sliced
a small handful of cilantro (I omitted, I'm out)
a pinch of red pepper flakes (I forgot)
In a medium sauce pan bring water and stock to a boil, add noodles. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Pour a bit of the hot water into a small bowl and whisk in the miso paste - so it thins out a bit (this step is to avoid clumping. You may have to do this several times, depending on how much miso you use). Stir this back into the pot. Taste, and then add more (the same way) a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Also, some miso pastes are less-salty than others, so you may need to add a bit of salt. Add the tofu, spinach, cilantro, and red pepper flakes and let simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
*Since I initially wrote this, I got sick. Go figure. But since we just had this soup last week, we're making Thai Style Chicken Soup instead. It's one of my favorites that we made last semester.