Recipe

Smoky Eggplant Miso Soup

by Sasha Marx

This is the most technical and labor-intensive recipe in our eggplant deep dive series, but don’t let that stop you. Miso soup is traditionally made using dashi, the mother stock of Japanese cuisine. Dashi is made by briefly cooking katsuobushi (smoked, dried, and fermented skipjack tuna flakes) and a dried kelp called kombu in water. This short ingredient list belies dashi’s deep, complex, umami-rich flavor. Here, we replace the katsuobushi with eggplant that we smoke and then dehydrate in the oven. The dried eggplant, along with shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and aromatics like ginger and garlic, create a rich broth that is finished with a small amount of salty-sweet miso. After it has flavored the broth, we slice up the plumped smoky eggplant and add it to the soup as a garnish. At once delicate and deeply comforting, this soup has the most intense eggplant flavor in our group of recipes. 

Yield
Serves 4
SFS_Smoky_Eggplant_Miso_Soup-0062.jpg
Ingredients
680 g eggplant (1 large eggplant), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
3 g kosher salt
135 g wood chips
40 g scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin, divided
15 g (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced thin
10 g lemongrass stalk, sliced thin
6 g garlic, sliced thin
2200 g cold water
30 g dried shiitake mushrooms
8 g kombu
40 g soy sauce
14 g mirin
50 g white miso
260 g soft tofu, cut into ½-inch pieces
1  large eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  kosher salt
2 cups wood chips
7  scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin, divided
1  (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1  (6-inch) piece lemongrass stalk, sliced thin
1  garlic clove, sliced thin
10 cups cold water
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
2  (4-inch) pieces kombu
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2½ tablespoons white miso
1¼ cups (9 ounces) soft tofu, cut into ½-inch pieces
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 680 g eggplant (1 large eggplant), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds 
    • 3 g kosher salt 
    • 135 g wood chips
    Toss eggplant with 3 grams salt in medium bowl; set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap wood chips in 8 by 4½-inch foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet.) Cut 2 evenly spaced, 2-inch slits in top of packet. 
  1. For charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter half filled with charcoal briquettes (500 grams). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.

    For gas grill: Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set grate in place, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 325 degrees F/160 degrees C.) 
  2. Clean and oil cooking grate. Arrange eggplant pieces on cooler side of grill. Cook, covered, until eggplant flesh turns golden brown and smells deeply smoky, 30 to 45 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Transfer to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F/90 degrees C. Transfer eggplant to oven and bake until pieces are shrunk, dry, and hard, about 4 hours. 
    • Scallions whites, sliced thin 
    • 15 g (1½-inch piece) ginger, peeled and sliced thin 
    • 10 g lemongrass stalk, sliced thin 
    • 6 g garlic, sliced thin 
    • 2200 g cold water 
    • 30 g dried shiitake mushrooms 
    • 8 g kombu 
    Place scallion whites, ginger, lemongrass, and garlic in center of small piece of cheesecloth; gather edges of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to form sachet. Combine water, sachet, eggplant, shiitakes, and kombu in large saucepan and bring to gentle simmer over low heat, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. 
    • Kosher salt
    Remove and discard sachet and kombu. Strain liquid through coffee filter set in fine-mesh strainer, reserving eggplant and shiitakes. Rinse and dry saucepan; return strained broth to saucepan. Thinly slice 100 grams reserved eggplant and 35 grams reserved shitakes. Combine sliced eggplant and shiitakes in small bowl and season with salt to taste. Reserve any remaining eggplant and shiitakes for other use. 
    • 40 g soy sauce 
    • 14 g mirin 
    • 50 g white miso 
    • Kosher salt 
    • 260 g soft tofu, cut into ½-inch pieces 
    • Scallion greens, sliced thin
    Whisk soy sauce, mirin, and miso into broth. Season with salt to taste. Add tofu and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Turn off heat. Divide eggplant and shiitake mixture among 4 bowls. Pour soup over top, sprinkle with scallion greens, and serve. 
Instructions
    • 1 large eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds 
    • Kosher salt 
    • 2 cups wood chips
    Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in medium bowl; set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap wood chips in 8 by 4½-inch foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet.) Cut 2 evenly spaced, 2-inch slits in top of packet. 
  1. For charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter half filled with charcoal briquettes (500 grams). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.

    For gas grill: Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set grate in place, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 325 degrees F/160 degrees C.) 
  2. Clean and oil cooking grate. Arrange eggplant pieces on cooler side of grill. Cook, covered, until eggplant flesh turns golden brown and smells deeply smoky, 30 to 45 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Transfer to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F/90 degrees C. Transfer eggplant to oven and bake until pieces are shrunk, dry, and hard, about 4 hours. 
    • Scallions whites, sliced thin 
    • 1 (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced thin 
    • 1 (6-inch) piece lemongrass stalk, sliced thin 
    • 1 garlic clove, sliced thin 
    • 10 cups cold water 
    • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms 
    • 2 (4-inch) pieces kombu
    Place scallion whites, ginger, lemongrass, and garlic in center of small piece of cheesecloth; gather edges of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to form sachet. Combine water, sachet, eggplant, shiitakes, and kombu in large saucepan and bring to gentle simmer over low heat, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. 
    • Kosher salt
    Remove and discard sachet and kombu. Strain liquid through coffee filter set in fine-mesh strainer, reserving eggplant and shiitakes. Rinse and dry saucepan; return strained broth to saucepan. Thinly slice 1 cup reserved eggplant and ¼ cup reserved shitakes. Combine sliced eggplant and shiitakes in small bowl and season with salt to taste. Reserve any remaining eggplant and shiitakes for other use. 
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce 
    • 1 tablespoon mirin 
    • 2½ tablespoons white miso 
    • Kosher salt 
    • 1¼ cups (9 ounces) soft tofu, cut into ½-inch pieces 
    • Scallion greens, sliced thin
    Whisk soy sauce, mirin, and miso into broth. Season with salt to taste. Add tofu and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Turn off heat. Divide eggplant and shiitake mixture among 4 bowls. Pour soup over top, sprinkle with scallion greens, and serve. 
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