I say “pan-Asian” because this quick soup, based on Miso (fermented Soy paste), is a basic recipe you can whip up in minutes and turn into almost any Asian culinary cultural experience you wish, simply by choosing the right supporting ingredients.
Asian Soup – Based on Dark Miso with Oyster Flavour Sauce, Sesame Oil
and a vegetable medley including Green Onions, Red Onions, and three
colours of Sweet Bell Peppers. Plus the meaty morsels pulled from the
carcase of a Roast Chicken that was originally served for Sunday
dinner! The biscuit is a classic Tea Biscuit with a teaspoon of
Chinese FiveSpice, a teaspoon of Nutmeg and a
teaspoon of Sugar in the dough.
Simply bring to a boil in a large saucepan a volume of water equal to the volume of soup you want to make. Add one heaping tablespoon of Miso per cup of water and stir until the paste is dissolved. This will constitute the “stock” base of your Asian soup.
Remember that Miso has a lot of Salt in it. You may not need to add any extra Salt to your soup! Wait until the end of preparation to taste for Salt and Pepper and adjust only if necessary.
Be aware, also, that Miso comes in a number of “shades”, from blonde to dark. The darker ones are quite strongly flavoured and the lighter ones are quite mild. Try a number of different “shades” of Miso to determine which one you prefer. And look closely at the package when buying Miso. Some brands come with Garlic and other flavours already added. I prefer to start with plain medium or dark Miso and add my own flavourings according to the culinary culture I am celebrating.
Choose a culinary culture
To make a basic Chinese soup, add green onions thinly sliced on the bias and small pieces of plain chicken breast meat. You can also add thin slices of roast or BBQ Pork, Beef or Duck.
You can add a dash of Soy Sauce, Oyster Flavour Sauce, Sesame Oil or even hot peppers to enhance the flavour of this soup.
Adding the right peppers and a little Hoisin Sauce can instantly transform your soup into a Sezchuan or Hunan delight. Adding a little yellow or light brown Curry Powder can make it Hot Cantonese style.
You can whip up a couple of Eggs in a separate bowl and drizzle them into your soup, stirring vigorously with chop sticks, in a circular manner, to produce Egg Drop Soup.
Add a little Vinegar and Brown Sugar to your basic soup and thicken with a tablespoon or two of Corn Starch dissolved in cold water (or white wine!) to make a simple Hot and Sour Soup. Don’t forget the Button Mushrooms, small Tofu cubes and a topping of more slivered Green Onions and crispy Fried Noodles!
Add some Thai Fish Sauce, a little Sesame Oil, and a squeeze of Lime Juice to your basic Miso soup to make a classic Thai soup.
Add Chinese Dim Sum dumplings to your basic soup to make it a meal. You can get them at any Asian market, in the freezer section.
Or go for traditional with noodles.
Dried Rice Noodles, especially the Angel Hair Vermicelli type, can be added dry, right from the package, near the end of cooking. They will soften and cook perfectly with just a few minutes of simmering. You might also want to try Asian Soba Noodles, made from buckwheat, prepared in the same way. Fresh or frozen Udon Noodles (the thick, round ones) can also be added near the end of simmering, giving them enough time to thaw, if necessary, and cook through.
Here’s a New Zealand chef’s take on a classic savoury Miso Soup!
And never forget… You can top any Asian soup with slivered Green Onions and some crunchy Fried Noodles for even more flavour and texture…
Let your imagination be your inspiration
Experiment with Asian Soups and come up with variations of your own – just like millions of Asian cooks have been doing for thousands of years!
~ Maggie J.