Here I present an interesting miso soup with butternut squash, spinach and soba noodles. It had been a while since I made a Japanese dish, as I was sidetracked with buttermilk, pumpkin and cranberries, but I was craving a soup. I liked how the sweet butternut squash mixed with salty miso. This soup was adapted from a recipe in Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas. I have learned that Asian recipes may not be the best from non-Asian sources, but this was pretty good although certainly not authentic Japanese. It attests to the beauty of soups and how hard it is to mess them up.
The hardest part of the soup was prepping the squash. I found it easy to microwave the squash first, let it cool slightly, then peel and cut the squash for the soup. Alternatively, you could cut and peel before you microwave it. Roasting it would be easy as well, but takes longer and you are more likely to get soft (roasted) squash.
Miso-Butternut Squash Soup with Soba Noodles and Spinach
1 small butternut squash, about 1 pound (I had around 5 cups)
5 cups vegetarian dashi
3-4 ounces soba noodles (one portion)
1/2-1 tsp grated fresh ginger, to taste
5-6 ounces fresh baby spinach
2-3 tbsp white miso
1. Place the squash in a microwave-safe container. Microwave for 8 minutes, or until it can be easily pierced with a knife but is still firm. Or, if you are using the oven for baking other foods, you can bake the squash in the oven. Cut it in half, wrap in foil, and bake at 375 or 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Either way, this step can be done ahead of time. Let the squash cool until it can be easily handled. Split it in half, remove the seeds and fibers, and scoop the flesh away from the skin. Cut into large dice and set aside until needed.
2. Bring the dashi to a simmer in a soup pot. Add the soba and ginger and cook until the noodles are al dente.
3. Add the spinach and diced squash. Cook just until the spinach is wilted but still bright green and everything is well heated through.
4. Dissolve the miso in 1/3 cup warm water and stir into the soup, then taste. If you’d like to add more miso, dissolve a small amount in a little warm water before adding. Season with pepper and serve at once.