Miso is most well-known for being the base of the miso soup served in Japanese restaurants (although it is also fabulous transformer of fatty fish…One day, I decided to try taking making a miso soup using a classic flavor mix of western cooking: caramelized shallots, Madeira and dried porcini mushrooms. The result was a rich broth that seemed more like a veal or beef broth than miso.
It makes a wonderful brothy base for impromptu composed soups. Simply heat the broth and float in any precooked ingredients you like, pastas like ravioli or tortellini; cooked dried beans; or roasted or steamed root vegetables, with some shredded pork or chicken. In Spring, steamed baby turnips, carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips are particularly lovely along with a few tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, like flat-leaf parsley, chives, or chervil.
(I”ll be talking about ways to improvise with Miso this weekend on national public radio’s The Splendid Table. We’ll send an update about how to listen to the show later today.)
Recipe: Rich Porcini Miso Broth
This rich, earthy broth is a quick, inadvertently vegetarian, substitute for meat broths. Since all of these elements can be kept on hand almost indefinitely, you can make this broth at a moment’s notice (once you’ve gotten your supplies).
Makes 1 quart
1 ounce dried porcini mushroom (about 1 cup)
6 cups hot tap water
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoons neutral vegetable oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallot (4 shallots)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup Sercial or Rainwater Madeira wine
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sweet white (shiro) miso paste
1 tablespoon red (aka) miso
Place the dried mushrooms in large bowl and cover with the hot water. Set aside to steep 20 minutes. In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter over moderate heat until amber colored and it smells like roasted nuts. Add the oil, shallot and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots are translucent and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the Madeira and bring to a boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, and the bay leaf. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the white and red misos until dissolved. Adjust the seasoning. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing to extract all the liquid. To store, cool the broth and transfer to a plastic container; refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months.
To use the miso broth, heat over moderate heat until hot but not boiling. Add any precooked elements you wish, such as ravioli and other pastas, beans, vegetables, roasted meats or poultry, greens, or herbs; heat until just warmed through and serve.