Miso soup was the first soup I enjoyed. No matter which soup my mom made, I never loved it. Pea soup with hambone, lentil soup with onions, minestrone, chicken-noodle soup, white bean soup with greens… my dad would rub his hands in anticipation when a soup was carried to the table. He truly loved them all, and I only ate them because I had to.
The very first time I had miso soup I loved it. Such clean flavor, so few ingredients, light, meatless. I was a vegetarian when I first tasted miso soup, maybe that had something to do with it. No, perhaps not.
I rarely ever ate in a Japanese restaurant without having miso soup first. That’s another thing about Japanese cooking. Great portions… what I mean by that is, the portions are never too large… unlike in German restaurants or even more so in American restaurants, Japanese places seem to offer plates that leave me feeling great.
I would love to do a miso journey through Japan… to find out how soybeans become a paste, how they are fermented and how they turn into miso. Perhaps I could walk from one place to the next. In my mind miso is created by artisans, but that could be a very false and overly romantic notion. I imagine wooden vats, which contain a potent smelling brew of fermenting soy, inside a wooden shed. I imagine men with white headbands who are using huge wooden implements to turn the soy over. I might even imagine the soundtrack that accompanies these actions – a mix of koto, the Japanese zither, with synthesizers…. like a Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack.
I am walking through the store. In my cart are green onions and two packages of tofu. I stand in front of the refrigerator that holds containers of miso and am trying to decide… red miso, white miso, mellow miso… I might boil some udon to go into the soup. That’s is not traditional, but it will taste good.
(I found this little piece from 2018 in a folder this afternoon)