The great thing about soup is that you can make it with just about whatever you have ready to go in your kitchen. It can be a simple light broth with veggies, or a thick and rich stew of meat, beans and noodles. I've never really tried anything with miso before, but recently a cold San Francisco night was calling for a good soup. The miso soup I have had before, primarily in restaurants, has been little else but broth and tiny cubes of tofu. Since this was going to be the main course instead of just a starter, I figured it was going to need a little substance.
I adapted yet another recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for this soup, and while I added generous amounts of vegetables for this batch, it is really easily adaptable for whatever suits your tastes. I heartily recommend adding a small amount of miso and tasting the broth at first, you can always add more if it isn't flavorful enough. Miso can be pretty salty, so you probably don't need to add salt to anything. I used the fresh udon noodles that I found in the refrigerated section at the store, next to the tofu. Dried noodles should serve just as well.
Udon Miso Soup
1 package of fresh udon noodles
2 - 4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
3 - 5 ounces of extra firm tofu, sliced into tiny 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups of water
3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch chunks
1 package of fresh shitake mushrooms or other variety, sliced thin
4 - 5 radishes, sliced very thin
Small handful of fresh cilantro
A pinch of red pepper flakes (for heat)
Boil the noodles in salted water until cooked and just tender, drain, rinse and set aside. Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Mix a few tablespoons of the broth into a small bowl with the miso paste and whisk so it thins out the miso. Pour mix back into the pot. At this point, taste the broth to see if it needs more miso. Add the water. You may choose to add a little water at a time, tasting the broth as you go. 2 cups ended up being just the right amount of extra liquid needed for the amount of vegetables and noodles. This will vary on what you add to your soup.
Sprinkle in red pepper flakes. Add mushrooms, celery, and radishes, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the tofu, and allow the soup to return to a simmer. Remove the soup from the heat and add the udon noodles. Serve topped with fresh cilantro. I can't eat soup without something crunchy, so I toasted slices of a baguette to serve along side.
If all goes as planned, this should serve 4.