Do you fall in love with miso soup every time you eat at a Japanese restaurant, but think the soup is too hard to make at home? It's not complicated, and even if you don't have a pantry full of exotic ingredients, you can make a satisfying bowl of soup with only miso and water. Miso, which you find in the refrigerated aisle of many grocery stores (or in an Asian market), comes in different colors. The lighter the color, the milder the miso; when in doubt, simply buy the lightest color you find. My store only carries miso that is the color of butterscotch, so that's what I consider "all-purpose" miso. It adds a pleasingly salty flavor to soups like this bowl of udon noodles with tofu and asparagus in miso broth, from Kahakai Kitchen, and makes a fine base for a glaze for seafood. It's not expensive, and a little goes a long way.
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No cuisine brings spices together quite like Indian cuisine: the warm spices like coriander, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and pepper, and the blends of curry powder and garam masala. These, along with garlic, onions and sometimes ginger, characterize the most popular Indian-spiced soups and curries like this butter chicken from No Recipes. At first glance, many Indian recipes look complicated, with long lists of ingredients, but the method for cooking them is not complicated at all. Toast and grind the spices, make a paste with onions and garlic, add the main ingredients and liquid. That's all there is to it. Cook these recipes on the stove top, or in your slow cooker.
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Vegetable soups have the power to cure whatever ails you -- low energy, too much snow, late nights at work -- but, let's face it, a bowl of vegetables in broth can be a bit thin and unsatisfying. Quinoa to the rescue! Quinoa thickens without adding any strong flavor, and it does so with just a few minutes of cooking in recipes like this spiced quinoa vegetable soup, from Everyday Maven. Pure quinoa is gluten-free (be sure to read package labels, to make sure the quinoa is not packaged in a facility that packages wheat products), which makes it handy to keep in your pantry.
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