A few weeks ago a friend and former colleague sent me a review copy of the new cookbook The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. I immediately fell in love with it, because on her dedication page, Alana quotes “Simple Gifts,” the Shaker song by Joseph Brackett. That song holds such a special place in my heart! It was somewhat of an anthem at my elementary school. One night, when Owen was a baby and acting incredibly fussy, and I was at a loss about how to calm him, I started to sing it just because it was the first thing that came into my head. I’ve been singing it to him every night since.
The song is perfect fit for The Homemade Kitchen, because it is filled with simple, soul-soothing recipes, like this miso soup with vegetables. Would you believe I had never made miso soup before? Alex loves it, and it’s one of my go-to foods when I am feeling under the weather, or just need a little pick-me-up. Alana herself writes about bringing miso soup to a bereaved friend: “Miso soup is what I can give. The fermented saltiness of of miso provides a deep briny comfort that I can only describe as both the taking in and replenishing of tears.”
- 1 (6-inch) piece of kombu or wakame seaweed
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 cup finely diced carrots (2 or 3 carrots)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
- 4 curly kale leaves, de-stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup miso paste (brown, red, white or a combination)
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, for serving
- Soak the kombu or wakame in 2 cups of the water for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and cabbage and continue to cook until the carrots and cabbage are soft, another 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the kombu or wakame from the water and set aside. Add the soaking water to the pot along with the remaining 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, add the kale and tofu, and cover the pot. Cook until the kale is tender and bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Scoop out about 1 cup of the broth into a small bowl. Add the miso to the small bowl and stir until smooth. Pour the miso mixture back into the pot. Roughly chop the reserved kombu or wakame and add to the pot. Add the tamari, taste, and adjust as necessary. Top with scallions just before serving.