Lorna Sass, who has refreshingly reinterpreted vegetarian cooking in her many books, is a kale devotee, as demonstrated by this recipe (adapted from The New Soy Cookbook) and others. Kale ribbons add verve to a nourishing, slurpily satisfying, tightly packed mélange of rice noodles, shiitake snippets, and black soybeans. For this speedy hotpot, neither dried mushrooms nor noodles are soaked, and canned beans are welcome.
The disparate elements are bound by the magic of miso, the fermented soy seasoning of Japan. Sass recommends both barley and sweet white misos, available in natural food stores and Oriental groceries, as are the translucent rice noodles or vermicelli (variously called mi fen or mai fun, sen mee, pancit bihon, or bun, depending upon their provenance). Barley miso alone will work, but the duo adds depth. If you have another kind, use it instead, tasting and adding gradually.