This is probably the version of Miso soup Western people are most familiar with, since it’s the one almost always served at sushi places. Still, you should remember: this is a miso soup, not the miso soup.
It’s easy to see why this version is so popular, though: simple, delicious, and easy to match with any Japanese dish, it’s always tempting to fall back on this recipe when the time comes to make 1-dish 1-soup.
Nuta is an ancient Japanese side dish: the first recipes for it appear in documents from the end of the Muromachi Era – some 450 years ago.
When I was a young girl, I can remember my grandmother making this for guests. But my feeling is that, in Japan, nuta has fallen out of favor over the years. You rarely see it on restaurant menus anymore, and few younger people seem to cook it at home these days.
I have no idea why that should be. Healthy, flavorful and extremely easy to make, nuta is poised for a come back if you ask me. In fact, over the years, I’ve discovered that people outside Japan love nuta. I always make it for my non-Japanese friends and it’s always a big hit.
Here, I share the vegetarian version of the dish, which is especially easy to make. But if you wanted to go further, you’d add squid to it for a show-stopper of a side dish. Just fantastic!
Butajiru is basically miso soup, but with one special ingredient: pork. The key thing here, though, is to go beyond just pork and add a lot of vegetables: enough to take it up a notch from the light broth you associate with Miso soup and turn it into the centerpiece of a meal.
What’s great about butajiru is that, once you chop all those vegetables, you don’t have to work a lot to make a really substantial meal. White rice, Butajiru and one small side dish (if you like) would make a perfect, well-balanced meal. So when cook is feeling a bit lazy, it’s a great solution: an easy warming dish for a cold winter day.
Because one thing I guarantee: Butajiru warms you up!
Miso soup is a Japanese fixation: a shocking number of people in Japan will have a salty bowl of miso soup with every single meal, alongside the obligatory white rice. Even if we’re not quite so fanatical about it, we still make it at least three or four times a week at home.
Of course, there are different kinds of miso (white, red, brown) and you can add in different combinations of vegetables, tofu and/or seafood. So there is some room for variation. But the basic idea is always pretty much the same: miso paste suspended in dashi broth.
In Japan, we add vegetables according to the season. Since it’s fall, we thought pumpkin was a good choice.