(Almost) Instant Dinner

When people used to complain to me that they didn’t have time to cook anything for dinner, I always brushed it off as laziness or poor planning. But now that I’m working and have a five-month-old daughter at home, I’ve fallen into this dilemma more times than I care to admit. For the last two nights, my husband and I have had this for dinner: Night One my husband has grape Popsicles, I have leftover oatmeal. Night Two my husband has half a watermelon, I have nothing. To make matters worse, we made a New Year’s resolution to save our money and not go out to eat, so picking something up on the way home has been out of the question.

With the situation getting more dire by the minute, I scoured the refrigerator for something—anything—I could throw together to make a meal. I spotted some chicken stock I had made over the weekend, which I put on the stove to simmer with a handful of mushrooms. I let that cook for a few minutes, then added a couple of spoonfuls of miso and scallions. Within minutes, the house was once again warmed by the smell of home cooking. The soup was light and brothy and absolutely delicious; it filled our bellies and for the first time this week we went to bed satisfied.

No more will I look down my nose at busy working people who visit the prepared-foods section more than once a week. I now understand, and you can bet I’ll be at the grocery store this weekend stocking up for next week’s meals.

Miso Soup with Mushrooms and Scallions
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons miso paste
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Bring the stock and mushrooms to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat, stir in the miso and scallions, season with salt and pepper, and serve.