Chicken soup has the (deserved) reputation of being a universal pick-me-up when you’re feeling under the weather, but I reckon Miso broth sits right alongside it. In Japan, many start their day with a bowl of Miso broth for the benefits that it is said to bring to digestive and gut health. Because Miso is a fermented paste, it brings beneficial bacteria to the gut – and there is overwhelming evidence to show that when your gut is happy your physical and mental well-being are also positively affected.
It’s also deeply delicious, and very easy and quick to make. The very essence of umami, it is warming and comforting and will accept almost anything that you wish to add to it – within reason of course. The recipe below is to get you started, so don’t feel constrained by the ingredients listed. Feel free to use tofu, shredded chicken, any vegetables you like (or have to hand, waiting to be used up) more of one thing, less of another, with noodles, without noodles, whatever, it’s the broth itself which is the real star here.
RECIPE serves 4
15g dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini
1.4 litres of just-boiled water
2 tbsp dark soy sauce, plus extra to serve
1 vegetable stock cube
4 tbsp brown miso paste
150g mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, enoki, or just chestnut) thinly sliced
200g medium dried egg noodles
4 large free-range eggs
2 pak choi, roots trimmed, leaves separated and washed
200g tenderstem broccoli
100g fresh beansprouts, rinsed and drained
6 spring onions, trimmed, very thinly sliced
50g roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
a fresh red chilli, finely sliced
Rinse the dried mushrooms to get rid of any grit, then put into a large, heavy-based saucepan and cover with the water. Add the soy sauce, stock cube and miso paste and stir until the stock cube has dissolved. Add your fresh mushrooms. Set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
I use dark soy sauce here because it has a deeper, less brash flavour than light soy sauce, and it is less salty. Feel free to use either, noting the difference between the two.
Meanwhile, half-fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally to break up the strands. Drain well, then rinse under running water until cold. Set aside.
Half-fill the same pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the eggs to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the water, and cool under running cold water to stop them cooking. Set aside.
Bring the mushroom broth to the boil. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, add the noodles, pak choi and broccoli and continue to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beansprouts and spring onions, remove from the heat.
Crack and peel off the egg shells, then cut the eggs in half along the long axis. The yolks should still be soft and runny.
Divide the broth, noodles and vegetables between 4 serving bowls. Top with the eggs. Sprinkle over the cashew nuts and chilli. Season with extra soy sauce.
To make this vegan, leave out the eggs and use wholewheat noodles (adjusting the cooking time for the noodles as necessary).