Nigel Slater’s recipes for miso soup, and caramelised bananas

Soup is so often the answer. Only a fortnight ago there would have been bowls of brown bean broth with sweet onions and thyme on the table, or maybe a golden butternut laksa with coconut and coriander leaves, leaving turmeric stains on the kitchen counter. This sudden flash of spring has shifted the spirits a bit. I am leaning towards lighter stock-based soups, clear and bright with green beans, herbs and tiny mushrooms that seem be straight from a book of fairytales.

If time is tight I will squeeze miso paste into a bowl, pour in boiling water and sip the result. But given half an hour longer, I have a chance to boil and pop early broad beans from their skins, pick mint and Thai basil leaves from their stems, and trim spoon-shaped pak choi to make a rather more substantial supper. You could add white or matcha green noodles, or a thick wedge of bread, toasted and dunked deep into the shining, hot broth. You could steam fat dumplings and drop them in, too.

Fifty years ago, the only clear soups in British kitchens would have been consommés, made with roasted beef bones, boiled for hours then strained through sheets of fine muslin. My gran would have preferred a cup of beef tea, the instant version of which is Bovril. I can’t think who would want to go through that malarky now that we have miso paste to hand and so many alternative vegetable stocks and dashi readily available. Clear, sustaining soups as bright as a box of jewels.

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