A culinary mainstay in Japan, miso is made with fermented soybeans mashed into a paste the consistency of peanut butter. It has a wonderful salty depth that adds texture and flavor to light, delicate vegetable soups.

6 cups vegetable stock

¼ cup brown miso

Three ½-inch slices fresh ginger

18 snow peas, stems and strings removed

4 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 carrot, coarsely shredded

2 green onions (both white and green parts), finely chopped

¼ red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dark (Asian) sesame oil, optional

Pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional

6 ounces extra-firm tofu (at room temperature), cut into ½-inch cubes

Garnish: sprigs of fresh cilantro

Whisk together the vegetable stock and miso in a Dutch oven; add the ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the snow peas, mushrooms, carrot, green onions, and bell pepper.

Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the ginger and discard. Stir in the sesame oil and red pepper flakes (if using).

For each serving, ladle soup over the tofu cubes in a deep soup bowl.

Advance preparation

Prepare this soup without the tofu; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Reheat and assemble the servings with tofu.