Pumpkin and Red Miso Soup

This recipe, as with most recipes, can be modified to match your tastes or the ingredients you have on hand.  To the consternation of my mom and husband, who try to follow my recipes, I prefer to let the spirit guide me when I’m in the kitchen, which is my recommendation to anyone who loves food and loves to cook.  If you know what you like, use the recipe as a suggestion but don’t be afraid to go off course if it sounds good.  If you are unsure, there’s no shame in following a good recipe.  I hope you’ll like this one as much as I do.

makes four lunch-sized servings, or two substantial dinner portions

1 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1  cup potato, cubed, preferably baby or yellow potatoes (if the skins are thin, they don’t need to be peeled)
1/2  medium yellow onion, diced
2  teaspoon of canola or vegetable oil
1/2  package firm tofu, cubed
4  cups vegetable stock, or water, divided
3-4  tablespoons of red miso paste, depending on preference
1/2  inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced,
not too thinly
1  green onion, thinly sliced
1-2  tablespoons of dried wakame (see recipe notes at the bottom of page)

Cut the onion, pumpkin, potato, and tofu into bite-sized, pieces, setting the tofu aside from the vegetables.  I like a half-inch cube for the potatoes, pumpkin and tofu, and a slightly smaller dice for the onions.  Heat a 4 quart pan or enameled, cast iron oven over medium heat.  Once the pan is hot (but never smoking) add the oil and swirl it around the pan.  When the oil is hot (but also not smoking) add the onions, potatoes, and pumpkin, and saute on medium or lower heat until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add 3 cups of vegetable stock or water to the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the vegetables simmer until they are tender, anywhere from 10-20 minutes–more if the pieces are large, less if the pieces are small.  Meanwhile, dissolve the miso paste in 1 cup of very hot, but not boiling water, and add the ginger to it.  Cover the miso broth and set aside.  When the vegetables are cooked scoop the ginger pieces out of the miso broth and add the broth to the vegetables, along with the cubed tofu, dried wakame, and green onions.  Turn the heat off and let the flavors melde until the wakame has rehydrated, a few minutes.

To serve, divide among large, deep bowls and eat while hot.  If you anticipate having leftovers, only add the wakame and green onions to the portions served, as they looses their form when they sit too long.  If you do this, rehydrate the wakame in a dish of warm water beforehand, and add it and the green onions to the individual bowls before serving.

recipe notes: wakame is a sea vegetable you can buy dried at most health food stores, or less expensively, at an Asian market, if you are lucky enough to have one near by.  If you don’t have pumpkin, you can easily substitute another hard, winter squash, such as butternut or acorn, without varying the cooking time.  If you don’t have ginger, or don’t want to bother with it, you can omit it.  If you use vegetable stock, be sure it is low or no-sodium stock, as the miso paste contributes a generous amount of saltiness to the dish.


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