Miso excited.

Veguary starts tomorrow! I’m giving up meat for the month of February in the hopes that I’ll discover some new healthy recipes, save a bit of dosh and do a teensy bit for the ol’ environment. I’m inappropriately excited about it. Today I went shopping and bought a stack of ingredients I’ve never used before to use in recipes over the next few days. Tofu! Enoki mushrooms! Miso paste! Mountain bread! 

…and then I got a bit overexcited and decided to start early. I had all these great ingredients in the house, and my curiosity got the better of me, so although I’d planned to make this tomorrow and blog about it then… well, I just had it and it was awesome. Presenting:

Vegetarian Miso Soup!

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But Lou, you may ask, isn’t miso soup vegetarian already? Well, that’s a common misconception! Miso soup is traditionally made with a dashi (stock) that incorporates fish shavings. Yes, that’s what I said. Fish. Shavings. You can make a vegetarian version by using dried mushroom shavings instead, but alas, when I went to my local Asian grocery store, the only dried mushrooms they had were enormous bulk bags and I wasn’t about to pay $8 for a stock flavouring. Hence this, somewhat improvised, recipe!

  • 100g firm tofu
  • 1 portabella mushroom (not particularly Japanese, I know, but the only shiitake mushrooms I could find were canned and I am a firm believer that fresh is best.)
  • 50g enoki mushrooms
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach (you could use bok choy for a more authentic miso… I just really like spinach and always have it lying around, so I chucked it in!)
  • 45g soba noodles
  • 1 tbsp red miso paste
  • dash of soy sauce
  • cooking spray

Press your tofu. Put a small pot of water on to boil. Lightly spray the bottom of a saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir-fry the tofu in the saucepan until it’s got a slight golden sear on each side. Slice the portabella, cut off the roots of the enoki and then add both mushrooms to the tofu. Is your water boiling yet? Add the noodles and set a timer for 3 minutes. Keep stirring the mushrooms and tofu while you wait. When the timer rings, drain the noodles and chuck them into a bowl of cold water so they don’t cook any further. Add 2 cups of water to the mushrooms and tofu, then add the spring onions (cut into 1cm pieces) and spinach. When the water starts to bubble, turn your burner down to a low heat and add the drained noodles and miso. Gently incorporate the miso by stirring it through the water until it dissolves. Don’t boil the miso! Apparently this is a cardinal rule and will result in weird-tasting miso soup from which all the nutrients have boiled away. Or something. Serve straight away. Add soy sauce to your taste.

That’s it! Miso soup. You can add whatever you like to it (you can even poach an egg in it as it cooks for an extra bit of protein!) or just have it by itself, if you’re after more of a savoury snack. I went a bit easy on the miso paste because it was new to me, but you might like more! White miso is a bit sweeter than red, and yellow is a bit meatier. Red is the happy medium – probably a good choice for first time miso-ers. This recipe serves one (it’s easily doubleable, though) and comes to a total of 354 calories, so it’s a pretty light meal but thanks to the warm, brothy, umami goodness it’s super filling.

Souper filling!

Right? Right?

*Sigh.*

See you tomorrow for more vegetarian goodness – the official start of Veguary!

PS: Inspired by my lovely vegan friend, I’ve decided to up the ante and go vegan for one day each week during Veguary. And that day will be… Vegan Vednesday! If you have any vegan recipes you think I should try, let me know in the comments!

PPS: Thanks so much to those who have sent in health and fitness questions for my ‘agony aunt’ series! If you have a question about losing weight, exercise, food, nutrition or anything that you think I might be well-equipped to answer (as you can see, soup puns are my forte, so feel free to ask about that as well), send it to me at luluintherunningshoes@gmail.com or post it as a comment.

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