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Miso Soup with Clams & Spinach
“The round, rich taste (also known as umami) of miso soup perfectly complements plump, briny clams. For the base of the soup you can use just water and miso, which you can find at most supermarkets. But if you can find dashi granules, they're worth adding for a more intense umami taste.”
16 littleneck or 24 smaller clams, such as manila
3 cups water
¼ teaspoon instant dashi granules (optional; see Shopping Tip)
2 tablespoons white miso (see Note)
2 cups gently packed baby spinach leaves
Toasted or hot sesame oil to taste
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
1Wash clams thoroughly to remove any grit. Bring water and dashi granules (if using) to a boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the clams and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until clams open, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the clams from the broth with tongs or a slotted spoon; let stand until cool enough to handle. (Discard any unopened clams.)
2Meanwhile, pour the broth through a fine-mesh sieve (or cheesecloth-lined strainer) to strain out any grit. Rinse out the pan, then return the broth to the pan.
3Remove the meat from the clam shells; discard the shells.
4Bring the broth to a simmer. Combine miso with 3 tablespoons of the broth in a small bowl; stir into a smooth paste. Whisk the paste into the simmering broth. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
5Divide the clam meat among 4 bowls. Ladle the hot broth and spinach over the clams and season with a drop or two of sesame oil. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.
Note: Miso is fermented soybean paste made by inoculating a mixture of soybeans, salt and grains with a beneficial mold. It's undeniably salty, so a little goes a long way. White or sweet miso, made with soy and rice, is yellow and mild in flavor; use for soup, salad dressings and sauces. Look for it near tofu at well-stocked supermarkets.
Shopping Tip: Dashi is the fundamental cooking stock of Japanese cuisine and is made from kelp and a specially dried and smoked fish. You can make it from scratch (see our recipe at eatingwell.com), but for simplicity, we like instant dashi granules. Look for them where other Japanese ingredients are sold and online from importfoods.com.