A culinary mainstay in Japan, miso is made with fermented soybeans mashed into a paste the consistency of peanut butter. It has a wonderful salty depth that adds texture and flavor to light, delicate vegetable soups.
6 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup brown miso
Three ½-inch slices fresh ginger
18 snow peas, stems and strings removed
4 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 carrot, coarsely shredded
2 green onions (both white and green parts), finely chopped
¼ red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dark (Asian) sesame oil, optional
Pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional
6 ounces extra-firm tofu (at room temperature), cut into ½-inch cubes
Garnish: sprigs of fresh cilantro
Whisk together the vegetable stock and miso in a Dutch oven; add the ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the snow peas, mushrooms, carrot, green onions, and bell pepper.
Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the ginger and discard. Stir in the sesame oil and red pepper flakes (if using).
For each serving, ladle soup over the tofu cubes in a deep soup bowl.
Prepare this soup without the tofu; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Reheat and assemble the servings with tofu.