This is a smoky, full-bodied miso soup, with a raspy voice and a penchant for half truths and white lies. It's the kind of thing you plunge into, like a lake at midnight after the water has turned ink black and you can no longer see the bottom. It is that enveloping. If you didn't know better, you'd guess that it came to be only after long hours of building flavor through endless boiling and straining. You'd guess that this soup really made you work for that first soul encircling sip. And if you serve this to anyone else, you may as well let them think it.
The secret to this soup is in the stock. Where usually you might find a recipe calling for dashi, a kind of Japanese soup stock, here you flavor the water with bonito flakes, which are flakes of dried, smoked bonito fish. After the bonito gives up its salty/smokey flavor to the water, you strain it out for a near instant and deeply flavored broth. And after all, it is the broth that keeps us plunging back in.
This particular recipe doesn't contain either the typical green onions or tofu, but feel free to add either or both. Instead, I've given it a shot of arugula, whose assertive personality mellows alongside the wakame. You might also consider watercress.
I found both the bonito flakes and the wakame at Whole Foods, so they're not so obscure to keep you from creating your own personal pool of miso.
Smoky, Soul Satisfying Miso Soup
Adapted from here
6 cups water
30 grams dried bonito flakes
3 dried shitake mishrooms
3 tablespoons dried wakame, shredded
6 tablespoons miso paste, in this case, red
2 cups arugula
Heat the water in a pot until just ready to boil, then add the bonito flakes. Turn the temperature down a bit and simmer for two minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes, then strain the bonito flakes out and discard.
Add the mushrooms and the wakame and return to heat. Simmer the soup over low for 20 minutes. Spoon out the mushrooms and cut into thin strips, discarding the stems. Return the mushrooms to the soup.
In a small bowl, whisk together the miso paste and a bit of the broth from the post, then pour back into the soup. Continue to let the soup simmer. Just before serving, add the arugula and heat just so it wilts. Serve and dive in.