Spring Miso Soup with Lemon

A soup for cooler spring days, when stews seem out of place but there's a damp chill in the air. 

Adapted from Amy Chaplin's At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Many Japanese dishes begin with dashi, a stock with a rich savory (umami) flavor. You can make dashi by simmering a piece of kombu seaweed and a few shiitake mushrooms in plenty of water for about 20 minutes. If you have the forethought, we recommend that you soak the shiitakes and kombu seaweed in water overnight before you make the soup. The stock will be rich, and you will only need to simmer it for 10 minutes.

*White miso is sweet and lightly flavored, and we think it works perfectly in this delicate soup -- but feel free to use your preferred miso paste and season to your taste. We recommend that you use miso that is naturally fermented and unpasteurized so that you get all the benefits of its live active enzymes. After you add the miso be careful not to boil the soup, as the miso's healthful enzymes and nutrients will break down. Just warm the soup gently and remove from heat just before it simmers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • A bunch of asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 handfuls (about 1 cup) of sugar snap peas, strings removed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 medium radishes, thinly sliced (about half a bunch)
  • 6 tablespoons unpasteurized sweet white miso* 
  • Zest of 1 lemon, cut in long strips. 
  • Juice from half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon, plus more to taste)
  • 10-20g of wakame, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 small bunch of watercress, stems trimmed (about 2 cups of leaves)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or chives

Bring the dashi up to a simmer over high heat. Set aside a large plate and a strainer or slotted spoon within easy reach. Add asparagus and sugar snap peas, and cook for 30 seconds. Add radishes and cook for another 30 seconds, then remove all vegetables immediately using your strainer or slotted spoon. Spread the vegetables out on a large plate and let them cool.

Reduce heat to low. Remove a cup of the dashi, add in the miso, and stir until the miso is dissolved. Add the miso solution, blanched vegetables, wakame, and watercress to the broth. Stir for a minute until the watercress is wilted, then turn off the heat. stir in the lemon zest and juice. Divide the scallions between bowls and then ladle in the soup. Serve immediately!

PS: if you want to make the soup ahead of serving time, make the dashi, blanch the vegetables, then store these separately. When you are ready to eat, warm the dashi and vegetables, add the miso, cress, lemon zest, and juice.