Fridge miso
Photo: Nandemo (Whatever) miso soup. Tonight there was a potato, a yellow onion, a piece of daikon, some curly kale, and two kinds of miso. Yes, I splashed in a little sake.

Oh food bloggers bring us the perfect recipe for miso soup.

Here we have a step-by-step guide to “classic” miso soup from Trevor Corson at Serious Eats.

How about theme and variation from Makiko Itoh at Just Hungry?

And the motherlode: 66 ways to make miso soup from Harris Salat at the Japanese Food Report.

Miso soup at my house is catch–as–catch–can. Making dashi (broth) is fast and delicious and completely doable even on a work night. I can have fresh dashi made in less than 15 minutes. It’s best if you let the kombu soak in cold water for a while before heating it, but in a rush you can still make a good, quick dashi from scratch. I know you’ll ignore me and use the powder packet, so I’ll shut up now on the joys of homemade dashi.

Besides the dashi, the rest of miso soup consists of using whatever ingredients you have, lightly cooking them in the dashi (usually—I’d blanch fried tofu and meats first), and adding the final addition of whatever mixture of miso you like. You can get really finicky with the blanching, and in some cases it’s worth roasting the vegetables or stir-frying the ingredients ahead, but this is nandemo miso soup, no need to prep for a Saveur photo shoot.

The nandemo part—knowing what you like and what works—takes a little tasting and experimenting, but it’s miso mixing, not nuclear fission. You know not to plop a spoonful of miso in the pot, right? It won’t dissolve, whisk it in some hot dashi first.

Woe unto he who boils the miso! (It really does deaden the flavor.)

So, after your first few goes at it, don’t stare at your laptop screen and measure out exact amounts of tofu and wakame, which you probably don’t have anyway: Get in the fridge, haul out the vegetables, and see what you have.

Tonight I had daikon, a potato, some kale, an onion. I made dashi, simmered the vegetables in it, and added a mix of two misos, hatchō, the super dark, and aka, a standard red. I steamed some leftover rice, added takuan pickles on the side, and Carlos said the house smelled like a Japanese restaurant. He’s so kawaii.