Growing up in Ukraine, eating soup daily and any time of the year was a regular occurrence, but with my own family in the US, I don't practice this tradition. However, during the winter months, we do enjoy having hot soups and stews. There is nothing like a delicious bowl of hot hearty soup for it seems to feed your soul as well as your body.
My friend Leah lived in Japan for a while and she told me about a specialty dish called Hoto soup. To be honest, I had little hope of it being delicious. It is a joy for me to travel around the world by way of creating international dishes in my own kitchen and experimenting with new ingredients. I think life is too short to eat the same foods day end and day out. In creating Hoto soup, OMG, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined it to be so delicious. For me, I refer to this soup as soul food or comfort food for it satisfies any savory craving. Yamanashi Prefecture created this soup using wheat noodles, which are doughy in texture much like the constancy of a dumpling. It is only in Yamanashi Prefecture that these noodles are produced. For the last century, this particular Japanese island has been harvesting wheat and not rice. Therefore, wheat noodles are used instead of rice noodles.
What do I like about this thick soup?
It's delicious and a healthy comfort meal!
It is super easy and quick to prepare!
It is a rustic dish using a variety of veggies or proteins in which you can use whatever you have on hand.
This soup can be vegetarian or not! The recipe that I am sharing with you today is vegetarian. I used many different kinds of mushrooms to provide protein. I used Enoki mushrooms, shiitake, brown beech, and king oyster mushrooms.
Miso is a key component to this dish and it gives great umami (“meaty”) flavor while providing you with good bacteria. Miso assists in making this dish a probiotic meal because it is fermented. You know how much I love cultured/fermented food! I know your gut will thank you for preparing and consuming this soup. It's filled with starchy vegetables that contain soluble fiber and non-starchy insoluble fiber, which provide prebiotics that act as a food source for the good bacteria causing it to grow and multiply like crazy. Another thing that I love about this soup is that the stock, called dashi, is made from kombu (dried kelp) and iriko (dried baby anchovies). Those two ingredients are an excellent source of iodine and who doesn't need extra iodine in their diet?
Why should you eat more seaweed?
In Japan and other Asian countries, the use of kombu (edible kelp) is considered as a basic staple in their cuisines. It is found in sea forests, also known as kelp forests. These forests are very beneficial for they provide an ecosystem for the organisms that live between the seafloor and the surface of the ocean. As such, the seaweed absorbs a vast array of nutrients, making it a powerful, health-promoting food. Believe it or not, seaweed is an exceptional superfood for it is loaded with vitamins, protein and full of iron.
What is miso? What do I love about miso?
Miso is a traditional fermented soybean paste having been used in Japanese cuisine for thousands of years. There are many varieties of miso from which to choose. Some are made with barley or chickpeas instead of soybeans. Traditionally foods such as soy, grains such as rice or barley, and Koji culture (fermentation starter) have been used in making miso paste. Miso is prepared and then fermented in wooden kegs from 6 months and up to 5 years. The longer it sits, the darker and richer the miso becomes.
In my kitchen, I do not restrict the use of miso to just Asian dishes but manage to add it to numerous other creations. I personally love the flavor its adds to soups, stews, salad dressings, and countless other dishes and condiments. For example, have you ever tried to make mashed potatoes with miso? Try it! Mashed potatoes and miso love each other! I also add in a garnish of scallions making it a beautiful and delicious side dish.
Miso is a beneficial healthy food and has been recognized for assisting in battling conditions like stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, fatigue, and inflammation. Recent research shows that it may even be associated with other health benefits, including reduced cancer cell growth. The probiotics within miso benefit your digestive health and lower cholesterol levels. Miso is also rich in high amounts of protein, fiber, manganese, and vitamin K. It also contains copper, zinc, riboflavin, and phosphorus. I think it is well worth it to have miso on hand and to discover many ways to include it in your diet. My friend Leah, who is a professional runner, told me, that every marathon in Japan never occurs without having miso soup available for the runners. That makes sense because miso contains high levels of minerals and therefore makes an exceptional liquid you can offer to replace the missing minerals caused from sweating.
What do you need to make this soup?
To make this home-style noodle soup, you can use what you have in your fridge. Fresh Hoto noodles are impossible to find outside of Yamanashi Prefecture, so feel free to use what you can find in your supermarket. I used this one noodles.
Miso fermented soybean paste
Kombu (dry seaweed)
Iriko (dried baby anchovies), the one I used in the video is super convenient to use since baby anchovies come in teabag form. Easy to steep, just like you would do tea.
Regular russet potatoes
Kabocha squash or use acorn if that's easier to find
Daikon (radish that is popular in Asian cuisines). Most supermarkets have Daikon. You can use any kind you have on hand. In the video I used locally grown turnips; by the way, I found this beauty at the local market.
I think it’s the largest of this type vegetable that I have ever seen.
Mushrooms, since I'm a big lover of mushrooms, I used a several different kinds in the video:
Enoki mushrooms, shiitake, brown beech, and king oyster mushrooms
Coconut oil (for frying king oyster mushrooms)
And for the Seasoning
Sake or plain rice vinegar
In Yamanashi Prefecture, Hoto noodles are served in an iron pot, which keeps the noodles and soup hot. I used my versatile Dutch oven. You can certainly use any soup pot (heavy cast iron or clay pots are best).
Let's do it...
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Serves: 4-6 people
Ingredients for the soup
8 oz. wheat noodles
2 heaping Tablespoons of miso paste
2 leaves of seaweed kombu
1 bag of Iriko (dried baby anchovies)
1 cup russet potatoes, sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced
2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
2 cups Kabocha squash, chopped (acorn squash can be used)
1 cup Daikon radish, sliced (I used turnips in the video)
2 cups leeks, chopped (white and light green part only)
1 cup enoki mushrooms
1 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 cup brown beech mushrooms
2 king oyster mushrooms, sliced (for frying and garnish)
1 cup scallions, chopped
Cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Jalapenos, sliced (optional, for serving, a few slices)
Sesame oil (optional, for serving, a few drops)
Soy sauce (optional, a few drops for serving)
Sake (for serving, a few drops, I used plain rice vinegar in the video)
Mirin (optional, for serving, I didn’t use in the video)
First, gather all your ingredients. To make the stock, put the burner on medium heat. Using your Dutch oven pot, add cups of water, seaweed and anchovies, bringing it to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile wash, peel, and slice all your veggies.
3. After 10 minutes, discard the bag with anchovies and seaweed from your Dutch Oven. Chop the seaweed and set it aside.
4. Add squash and leeks to the stock. Next add the potatoes, carrots, stir all together, then cover and let cook for 10 minutes.
5. In a cast iron pan add one tablespoon of coconut oil and slice the oyster king mushrooms. Season with salt and black pepper on each side, and fry them for a few minutes on each side.
5. Add the radish, cabbage, and chopped seaweed to the Dutch oven pot.
6. When veggies are done and cooked add all mushrooms and stir together.
7. Add noodles and stir. Then, dissolve 2 heaping tablespoons of miso paste into one cup of hot water whisking until it is well blended and add to the stock. Next, add scallions to the soup, and stir. Turn off the heat immediately and serve! Note: Due to the wheat noodles, the soup will get thicker the longer it sits.
8. Pour the soup into a serving bowl, add on top a few slices of fried oyster king mushrooms and garnish, as you desire. (In the video, I didn’t use sake or mirin, so I garnished my soup with a few slices of jalapenos, some cilantro leaves, a few drops of rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil). Mix together with chopsticks and enjoy!