Recipes for Poor Folks: Miso Soup

Once again, Need drives me over to Invention, plops me down and makes me like it. I am poor — which fact the ATM informed me, yet again, just as I was about to get some money for lunch. I abandoned the plan and rode my bike home with my mouth hanging open to catch the snowflakes.

Thoroughly chilled, I looked in the fridge. Nothing. I grit my teeth, I girded my loins, I spit. Really? Nothing? No. A fiction. First of all, there are so many condiments a person could live on those alone for a week. Second, I have greens growing in the garden, miso paste, and always some dried noodles. I’ve eaten it a million times before, but still it always feels like Invention pulled magically from an empty fridge.

So this is what I eat when I am cold and poor and lazy. Miso soup, which, to quote M.F.K. Fisher, “can be stretched this way or that and made country-simple or town-elegant.” (Naturally I have been reading Fisher’s thoughts on thrift — still standing, sturdily! — How to Cook a Wolf.)

Boil a bowl’s worth of water with a piece of kombu. Add a handful of bean-thread or rice-stick noodles. Give them a couple of minutes. Add a handful each of fresh spinach and frozen corn. If the noodles are done, pour the soup into the bowl. Mix in yellow miso paste, maybe 1.5 T for a bowl, but to taste. Add sesame oil.

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