>> Thursday, February 5
To think that just one month ago I had never even used miso in a recipe is almost beyond me. It has been in everything I make lately, and it seems to provide that magical “oomph” I sometimes crave but can’t quite place (umami...). A friend of mine offered to cook lunch for me a few days before she moved to Germany last week, and she brought me to a realm of miso-induced-ecstasy I never dreamed could exist. Fresh leeks sautéed in sesame oil with turmeric and fennel-seeds, plus flavorful red onions and fresh ginger made one bowl of it enough to tempt me into packing my bags and swimming to Japan, which is where she learned to make it. Along with her suggestion of adding pumpkin or squash and the inspiration of watching her cook this soup to perfection, I have created my own version:
Sauteed Fennel and Butternut Miso
- 1 piece dried kombu seawead (optional)*
- 2 sheets nori (optional)
- 2 tiny or 1 small-medium red onion
- 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 fresh leek, finely sliced in rings
- 1 hea dof fresh fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 cup diced pumpkin
- 1 cup diced tofu, firm
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds, whole
- 4 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp miso (Christina used Mogi, but it’s not GF, so use any that is)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- gomashio to taste (a few tsp) (optional)
- Soak kombu for 5 minutes in about 6 cups of water, then cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and add the tofu, stirring to coat all sides. Add some gomashio and a splash of the kombu stock, cover, and cook until the stock is gone and the tofu is lightly browned.
- In your soup pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the turmeric, fennel seeds, onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring as you go. Cook for a few minutes over medium-low heat, then add the fennel, leek, and pumpkin with a splash of kombu stock just to moisten them. Lightly sautee the veggies for a moment, then add the rest of the stock and cook until the leek is lightly tender.
- Remove from the heat and let cool a few minutes before adding the miso, to make sure you don’t kill it.
- Dip out a ladle-full of soup and dissolve a spoon of miso into the ladle of soup, then empty the contents back into the pot. Repeat for all the miso, taste, and adjust anything you need to. Serve with the tofu on top and gomashio and crushed nori as garnish.
*If you don’t have kombu, just use water