Spicy Nettle & Tofu Soup

20140515-232556.jpgThis past winter was – as Midwest winters often are – long and cold. I cooked a lot of soup for about five months straight. Now that it’s been warmer outdoors, I haven’t been making soup at all. But, sometimes the chillier temps and cool rain that are common in the spring months here in Michigan been make me crave a warm bowl of soup again. 

By this point in the season, I’ve used up all of my winter vegetables, so when cooking this dish, I decided on a light, spicy soup that would use up some of the springtime produce I already have in the kitchen. I used fresh nettles in my soup (and I highly recommend them), but you don’t have to. If don’t have any or don’t know where to get them, you can substitute any other spring greens you have on hand, like spinach, chard, collards or kale.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces of portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of fresh nettles,* washed and roughly chopped (can substitute fresh spinach, kale, chard, or collards)
  • 5 fresh ramps or green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup white miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of ground fresh chili paste (I used this kind. I found it at my local grocery store)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 12 ounces of tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 12 ounces of light beer (optional – but does add nice flavor)
  • 1 yellow onion

*Be careful with fresh nettles as they don’t fully lose their sting until cooked. I have noticed that nettles that have been picked more than a day or two ago and stored in the fridge do lose some of their sting, but if you don’t want to get stung, I’d wear rubber gloves while washing and chopping the nettles.
Directions:

Heat a large pot on medium high. Add a 1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil. When the oil has melted (this should happen very quickly if the pot is the right temperature), add the onions and the mushrooms. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring as needed to keep things from burning or sticking to the pan. Add, 1 tsp. sea salt, stir the mixture and let cook another 3-5 minutes.

In the mean time, add 1 cup water, miso paste, and chili paste to a medium bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Then add the miso-chili paste mixture, beer, nettles, and tofu to the pot and stir well. Add about 1-2 cups of water to the pan depending on the desired thickness of the soup. This soup will be brothy in nature either way, but if you’d like it to be more brothy add more water (or less, depending on your preference). Bring the soup to a boil and let bubble vigorously for about 5 minutes, then reduce to medium heat. Then add the wild ramps. Cover the pot with a lid and let the soup simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the soup simmers, wash and chop cilantro and set aside.

When your soup is done, remove from heat and serve with fresh cilantro on top. Enjoy!

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