This miso soup owes its rich savoury flavour to the shiitake mushrooms, ginger and dried kombu stock.
25 g dried kombu
1 tablespoon sake, Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons miso
4 spring onions, sliced
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
85 g tofu, diced
3 cups trimmed watercress, about 85 g
Put the kombu in a saucepan and pour in 1 litre of water. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from the heat and cover the pan. Set aside for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the kombu.
Stir the sake, rice wine or sherry, sugar and ginger into the broth and return to the boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the miso until it dissolves completely.
Add the spring onions, mushrooms, tofu and watercress. Cook very gently, stirring, for 2 minutes without allowing the soup to boil. Ladle into small bowls and serve at once.
Kombu is a sun-dried edible seaweed that is very popular in Japanese cookery. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth before using. It can be finely shredded or snipped into fine strips with scissors and returned to the broth, if you like, to add an interesting texture contrast.
Miso is a fermented paste made from soya beans. If your supermarket does not stock it, try a health-food store.
For an intense herb flavour, add 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves with the watercress.
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