Friday, May 28, 2010

Quick Meal Friday: Miso Gyoza Soup

My kids love miso soup. I occasionally use a mix to whip some up, but I hear complaints that it's too salty (and to save yourself a missed heartbeat, just don't look at the sodium count on the label). I use a not-authentic-miso recipe from an old standby collectionMoosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day.

Instead of making a special trip to the Japanese grocer for kombu to prepare dashi, I use dried shiitake mushrooms, which you usually can find in any grocery store. Steeping the mushrooms in very hot water adds an earthy flavor to the broth that later gets rounded out by a swirl of miso paste. (By the way, you can buy miso paste at nearly any old grocery store. Unless you eat it regularly, you won't notice much difference among brands.)

I round out the whole soup with more veggies, whatever I have in the fridge (could this be my mantra?). I particularly love carrots and baby bok choy, which is always available at my Trader Joe's and has a far less bitter taste than full grown bok choy, as long as you avoid the very white parts of the stalk. I also add a bag of cooked vegetable gyoza from Trader Joe's, from the freezer section. The Thai shrimp gyoza are great too, but I have a little one with a seafood phobia. I empathize; I didn't eat a piece of seafood until I was 21, a memorable seafood linguine dish at the Legal Seafoods chain in Boston.

When you do your final ladling to serve this dinner, it's easy to leave out any offending ingredients your kids won't eat, as long as you chop things largely enough. And don't you find that those offending ingredients are never the same for each kid anyway?

Miso Gyoza Soup
Serves 4 to 6.

4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 quarts vegetable broth
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
one package frozen vegetable gyoza, prepared according to package directions (if you use Trader Joe's pan instructions, however, I recommend that you lower the heat!)
2 to 3 heads baby bok choy, sliced
3 tablespoons white or red miso paste
one block extra-firm tofu, pressed between paper towels to absorb excess water and cubed

In a glass measuring cup, pour boiling water over mushrooms and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring broth to boil in a soup pot. Add carrots and lower heat to simmer; cook for about 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms from cup and pour steeping water into the pot. When cool enough to touch, trim off stems and slice mushroom caps. Add mushrooms to the pot with the bok choy. Cook about 5 minutes.

With a glass measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup of broth from the pot, without vegetables if possible. Stir in miso paste and mix until well combined. Turn off heat, and pour in miso mixture. Ladle broth and veggies into bowls, then add tofu cubes and gyoza.

FYI, if you store the tofu cubes and gyoza separately, you can save the leftovers for the next day's lunch. Otherwise both will turn into a lacy mush within a couple hours.

{Follow-up: Here's a link to another mom's similar adventure in miso soup!}

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