To prepare a soup like this, I start with boiling water in the pot, add some salt and blanch the fresh vegetables. Then I take out the vegetables to the serving bowls. Now add the leftovers to the broth, simmer for a few minutes, adjust the taste with soy sauce, or miso; sometimes both, and serve with the vegetables.
Sometimes I have to start from scratch. I put a few pieces of dried seaweed to the boiling water, together with some leftover chicken bones, if we have them. Simmer for a few minutes and remove the bones. Then add some salt and cooking oil to cook the vegetables, tofu, soybean or any root vegetables. This adds up to be a very light and healthy lunch.
I sometime make the Japanese cooking stock, dashi, as the base for the soup. The dashi I make is to cook kombu (kelp), shavings of dried bonito, and dried shiitake mushrooms in water, simmered for about 10 minutes, but not to boil, and then strain the liquid as the stock. Some where I read about this “not to boil” in making dashi and have been following it without knowing the reason. I figure it has to do with the subtle tasting buds of Japanese, by not boiling, one could detect the favour of each ingredient.
The Raw and the Cooked, MYTHOLOGIQUES is a new column on the culture of eating and cooking, with contributions by various authors. The column name is borrowed from the title of a book by Claude Levi-Strauss. It is spontaneous, a little amusing but serious at the same time.