This week’s book is ‘Zen: The Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’ by Deng Ming-Dao (which, now I come to think of it, should probably be under D and not M). It’s divided into three sections: classic flavours, east-west combinations, and tea menus. Most of the things I’ve earmarked to cook are from the first section – the tea menus are ridiculously complex even for me and the fusion dishes are mostly unappealing (mango and olive pasta anyone?). However, there was one thing that caught my eye as I flicked through which seemed as if it could work, and this is it: a fairly classic tomato soup with onion, garlic, lots of celery, carrot and tomatoes, simmered slowly and gently. The only unusual additions are a nub of ginger and a fair dollop of brown miso paste.
And it does work, I’m pleased to report – the miso gives it a solid depth, but isn’t overwhelming; it contributes a savoury note without being clearly identifiable as a flavour in its own right. This is a good way of perking up a fairly ordinary tinned tomato soup which would be equally at home, I imagine, with a noodle salad or a cheese sandwich.
Tomato-miso soup Serves 4
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
half bunch celery (about 5 sticks), finely sliced
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
375ml veg stock
60g miso paste
Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and ginger for 15 minutes or so over a low heat until soft (don’t let the vegetables brown).
Stir in the mirin. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Add the miso, stirring thoroughly. Pour in the stock and bring to a low simmer, leaving to cook gently for a further 45 minutes.
Blend the soup until smooth. You can garnish with chopped spring onions, ginger and/or creme fraiche, if you like.
Adapted from Deng Ming-Dao’s ‘Zen: The Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’.