Miso Clam Soup


If you know how to boil water, you’re halfway to making miso soup. It’s that simple: add miso paste to hot water and stir. Although traditional miso soup is made with dashi, a broth seasoned with the dried seaweed kombu and bonito fish flakes, I also like making a quick version with just hot water and some good miso paste. Instead of tea, I like to make a mug of miso soup and enjoy it with a bowl of rice for breakfast. This recipe notches up the luxe factor with the addition of briny Manila clams, but is still simple to make.

Miso is essentially soybeans that are fermented with a mold known as koji. It can ferment in as little as 3 days or as long as 3 years, yielding miso that varies in complexity, color, and flavor. My favorite type is salty red miso from Japan’s northern port of Hokkaido, but other varieties of miso such as the sweet white miso from Kyoto also make delicious miso soup.

1 pound soft (“silken”) tofu, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes

4 thin slices fresh ginger

1 pound small Manila clams, scrubbed and debearded

¼ cup red miso paste, plus more to taste

Chopped scallions (green and white parts), for serving

Roasted nori, shredded, for serving

In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the tofu and ginger, and bring back to a gentle boil. Add the clams, cover the pot, and cook until the clams have opened up, about 3 minutes. (Discard any that do not open.)

Turn off the heat and stir in the miso to dissolve it, adding more to taste if you like. Top each serving with chopped scallions and shredded nori.

Tip: Never boil miso as it will become gritty.