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Miso takes this vegetable soup from basic to memorably delicious

Instead of carrots and celery, you can substitute any root vegetables you have on hand (Tom McCorkle/The Washington Post)
Instead of carrots and celery, you can substitute any root vegetables you have on hand (Tom McCorkle/The Washington Post)

I typically approach my recipe creation methodically, thinking through the concepts, ingredients and each step well before I get into the kitchen to test them.

But every once in a while a recipe just falls into my lap. That’s exactly what happened with this one. I was staring into my fridge one evening trying to figure out what to make for dinner, pondering half of a head of cabbage, a random smattering of root vegetables and some leftover herbs. I decided they’d come together well as a simple winter vegetable soup, so I started sauteing diced onion, carrot and celery root in olive oil (you could sub celery, swede, turnips, potatoes and/or parsnips).

Then I added garlic and thyme, and the chopped cabbage. Fishing around my kitchen for boxed stock I spied a tin of chickpeas, so I tossed those in as well to make the soup more of a complete meal.

When the vegetables were tender and the soup’s aroma told me it was ready, I went back to the fridge to grab parsley for a garnish, when it caught my eye – the ingredient that catapulted this soup from basic to “definitely making again” – a container of white miso paste.

Just a couple of tablespoons stirred in at the end of cooking added a layered, deep savoury taste that played off the earthiness and sweetness of the vegetables beautifully. Although I intended the soup to be merely a simple dinner for my family, it turned out so memorably delicious, I couldn’t wait to share it with you here.

Winter vegetable soup with miso

Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6 (makes about 10 cups)

A couple of tablespoons of miso catapult this simple winter vegetable soup to one that is truly special, with a layered, deep savory taste that plays off the earthiness and sweetness of the vegetables beautifully. Instead of the carrots and celery root, you can substitute any root vegetables you have on hand – swede, turnips, potatoes and/or parsnips would all work well.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion (340g), chopped

3 medium carrots, cut into ½cm-thick coins

1 large celery root (450g), trimmed, peeled and cut into 1½cm dice

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

½ tsp fine salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ small head green cabbage, roughly chopped

One (425g) tin no-salt-added chickpeas, drained

1.4L low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

2½ tbsp white miso paste (shiro miso)

Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Method:

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots and celery root and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the cabbage and chickpeas, followed by the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Ladle about ½ cup of broth into a small bowl, add the miso, and whisk or stir to dissolve completely. Add the miso mixture to the soup and stir to combine. Taste, and season with additional salt, if desired.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the parsley and serve hot.

Nutrition information per serving | calories: 226; total fat: 9g; saturated fat: 1g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 729mg; carbohydrates: 32g; dietary fibre: 8g; sugar: 12g; protein: 7g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

© The Washington Post