Recipe: Rich Porcini-Miso Broth

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Once you're made this broth, you can simply heat it and add any precooked ingredients you like: ravioli or tortellini, cooked dried beans, roasted or steamed root vegetables, or shredded pork or chicken. In spring, steamed baby turnips, carrots, beets, potatoes, and parsnips are particularly lovely along with a few tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, like flat-leaf parsley, chives, or chervil. Since all of these elements can be kept on hand almost indefinitely, once you've gotten your supplies you can make this broth at a moment's notice.

Makes 1 quart

    • 1 ounce dried porcini mushroom (about 1 cup)
    • 6 cups hot tap water
    • 1½ teaspoons unsalted butter
    • ½ teaspoons neutral vegetable oil
    • ½ cup coarsely chopped shallots (about 4)
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • ½ cup Sercial or Rainwater Madeira wine
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tablespoon sweet white (shiro) miso paste
    • 1 tablespoon red (aka) miso paste

Place the dried mushrooms in a large bowl and cover with the hot water. Set aside to steep 20 minutes. In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter over moderate heat until it becomes amber-colored and smells like roasted nuts. Add the oil, shallot and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots are translucent and golden brown, about five minutes.

Add the Madeira and bring to a boil over high heat until reduced by half, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, and the bay leaf. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the white and red miso pastes until dissolved. Adjust the seasoning. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing to extract all the liquid. To store, cool the broth and transfer to a plastic container; refrigerate up to four days or freeze up to two months.

To use the miso broth, heat over moderate heat until hot but not boiling. Add any precooked elements you wish, such as ravioli and other pastas, beans, vegetables, roasted meats or poultry, greens, or herbs. Heat until just warmed through and serve.

To read about how a miso tasting changed Sally's approach to this Japanese soup staple, click here.

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.
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