Miso Soup

"When I was a kid, I spent a few months in Japan and always thought it was so cool how we ate miso soup for breakfast!" says 'Stiletto Chef' author Candice Kumai. "It was warm and comforting and felt so good to sip first thing in the morning. My love affair with miso paste has been going strong ever since."

Candice uses miso as a condiment to give body and a savory umami-quality to all kinds of sauces and dressings. You can usually find it in the produce section of the supermarket at around $5 a container. A little goes a really long way so it's worth every penny! Here's her recipe for Miso Soup, paired with a fab salad.

Miso Fabulous Soup and Salad Combo
Serves 4

For the miso soup
4 cups water
3 tablespoons miso paste (see the sidebar, below)
1 cup firm tofu cubes (about 1/2 of a 14-ounce package)
5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal

For the miso salad
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon miso paste (preferably red)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 head tender lettuce (like Bibb or Boston; about 4 cups)
1 large carrot, trimmed, peeled, and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 small cucumber, semi-peeled (so it's striped), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
One 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained, halved and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

To make the soup, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the miso and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup gently (don't boil) for 5 minutes and then add the tofu and turn off the heat. Cover to keep warm while you make the salad.

Whisk the mayonnaise, miso paste, and rice wine vinegar together in a small bowl. In a large bowl toss the lettuce with the carrots and cucumbers. Divide the salad amongamong 4 plates. Top with a few avocado slices and a few pieces of tofu and drizzle with some dressing. Divide the soup among4 bowls and sprinkle with the scallions. Serve both for a killer soup and salad combo!