This guide is a great place to start if you're looking for miso soup ingredients. Learn the basics for the authentic recipe and savor the taste of Japan!
This guide will cover the key ingredients required for crafting miso soup. You'll also find tips on ingredient selection and a straightforward five-step recipe for creating this comforting dish at home.
At the end of the guide, you'll find some of our favorite miso soup recipes - simple, delightful, and ready to try immediately!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love Japanese miso soup.
- You want to know how to make miso soup.
- You are looking for authentic miso soup recipes.
Let's get started on making your bowl of umami-packed miso soup today!
About This Recipe
- Comprehensive guide for classic Japanese miso soup
- Japanese ingredients explained
- Five Steps to making miso soup
- Easy miso soup recipes
What is Miso Soup?
Miso soup (miso shiru in Japanese) is a staple of Japanese cuisine and a beloved traditional soup. The three main ingredients are miso paste, dashi soup, and additional ingredients like tofu, vegetables, and seaweed.
This savory soup is perfect for any time of day, but many believe it's best enjoyed in the morning as it warms the body from the inside out. In fact, miso paste has been known to have soothing properties that can help you relax and feel calm.
One of the best things about miso soup is how easy it is to make. Even a seven-year-old can make it on their own! As a child, the first recipe I learned from my mother was how to make miso soup. It's the most straightforward soup in Japanese cooking and can bring a sense of peace with every comforting bowl.
Three Key Ingredients in Miso Soup
Here are the three key ingredients in homemade miso soup, and let's take a closer look at each and how they contribute to this beloved dish.
- Miso paste
- Dashi (soup stock)
- Ingredients of your choice (such as tofu and seaweed)
1. Miso Paste
Miso paste is the essential flavor of miso soup. It is a fermented food and a basic seasoning for Japanese cooking. It's nutritious-rich, healthy, and contains beneficial bacteria that help create a healthier digestive environment (see the benefits here).
Miso paste is the heart and soul of miso soup, providing its essential flavor. This fermented food is a cornerstone seasoning in Japanese cooking, packed with nutrition and health benefits. Miso paste is rich in beneficial bacteria that help promote a healthy digestive environment.
To learn more about the miso paste, click here: What is miso paste.
Type of miso paste
In general, there are three types of miso paste:
- Rice miso paste - made from soybeans, rice, salt
- Barley miso paste - made from soybeans, barley, salt
- Soybean miso paste - made from soybean, salt
Rice miso paste is the most common type of miso (80% of miso production, I always use this type), but there are also regional differences. For example, people in southern Japan use barley miso paste.
Since rice miso paste is widely used in Japanese kitchens, I will focus on it in the following sections.
The difference in the color
Miso paste can range from light to dark, and each color has a different taste and flavor. The lighter miso paste is generally sweeter and milder in flavor, while the darker miso paste has a more intense and savory flavor.
The longer miso is fermented, the more flavors and colors it will develop (called the Maillard reaction).
Here are different types of miso paste by color:
- White miso paste (shiro miso) - Short fermentation (1 to 3 months). Slightly sweet with a light aroma.
- Yellow miso paste (awairo miso) - Medium fermentation (4 to 8 months). It's mainstream miso.
- Red miso paste (aka miso) - Long fermentation (one year or more). Salty and rich in flavor
I like using yellow for miso soup and red for other dishes. But it's a personal preference, so try red, yellow, and white, and find out which one suits your taste.
Pick authentic miso paste
It takes time to make miso paste, like six months to a year, but some of the products are much shorter. These products contain additives to fake the deep flavor and control the quality, which doesn't have an authentic taste.
Miso paste is the key ingredient in classic miso soup, so I recommend picking genuine products that only contain rice, koji rice, and salt on the label, like this miso paste.
Dashi is a flavorful broth and another essential ingredient in miso soup. It brings a unique taste and aroma to the soup that can't be replicated with a substitute like vegetable broth.
The general ingredients used to make dashi include Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes), Kombu seaweed (Kelp), Dried shiitake mushroom, and Niboshi (Baby anchovy). Each of these ingredients brings a different savory flavor to the dashi and, ultimately, to the miso soup.
To learn more about the dashi stock, click here: What is dashi?
How to Make Dashi
There are three ways to make dashi:
- Homemade dashi
- Instant dashi powder/granules
- Dashi packets.
In the following section, we'll go over each type in detail.
Homemade Dashi Broth
Store-bought dashi powder is easy and quick, but homemade dashi broth makes your soup more delicious. Making dashi from scratch is extra work, but if you want authentic Japanese restaurant quality, I highly recommend trying homemade dashi!
Homemade dashi recipes:
- Vegan Dashi (Shiitake mushrooms and kombu seaweed)
- Awase Dashi (Katsuobushi and kombu seaweed)
- Niboshi Dashi (Baby anchovy)
Instant Dashi Powder
If you want something quick and easy, these instant dashi powders or dashi granules help you. Add a couple of teaspoons to a saucepan with water. They are easy to dissolve.
Choose the one that suits your preference, but if unsure, pick katsuobushi dashi, which is standard for miso soup.
Instant dashi powder variations:
- Kombu dashi powder - made from Kombu seaweed. It's vegan. The flavor is mild.
- Katsuobushi dashi powder - made from katsuobushi (bonito flakes), kombu, and shiitake mushroom. This brings a well-balanced umami flavor.
- Niboshi dashi powder - made from niboshi (baby anchovy), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), kombu, and shiitake mushroom.Addvor than the other two.
Another option for making dashi is to use a dashi packet. This option is convenient and provides an authentic flavor. The packet contains ground dashi ingredients such as bonito, sardines, dried shiitake mushrooms, and kombu.
Making dashi with a packet is simple. Add one packet to a saucepan with water and cook. Remove the packet before adding miso paste to the soup.
3. Soup Ingredients of Choice
The miso soup ingredients of choice are limitless, so we don't get bored eating the soup every day. Popular ingredients are tofu, scallions, dried wakame seaweed, aburaage, and daikon.
Variety of ingredients
If you are looking for more variety, here's a list of ingredients!
- Vegetables: Green onions, scallions, spring onions, okra, tomatoes, eggplants, moyashi sprouts
- Root vegetables: Daikon, onion, carrot, sweet potato, gobo
- Leafy greens: Spinach, bok choy, komatsuna
- Mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms
- Seaweed: Wakame, kombu, nori
- Soybean products: Silken tofu, soft tofu, firm tofu, aburaage, natto
Pick your favorite ingredient and make your original miso soup every day! If you like hearty soup like me, select 2 or 3 and make it a filling dish!
5 Easy Steps To Make Miso Soup
How to make it is simple and easy as follows:
- Step #1 - Cut ingredients
- Step #2 - Put ingredients, dashi, and water in a saucepan
- Step #3 - Bring to a boil and simmer
- Step #4 - Add miso paste
- Step #5 - Dissolve miso paste
Please see more details in this tofu miso soup video.
Learn more in How To Make Miso Soup.
10 Easy Japanese Miso Soup Recipes
Here are ten different miso soup recipes to try out, including:
With these recipes, you can enjoy a variety of delicious and classic Japanese miso soups at home!
Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients
If you live in the US, you can find Japanese ingredients in the list below.
- Japanese market: Mitsuwa Marketplace, Marukai
- Asian market
- Whole Foods Market
- Health food stores
- Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon
There are three main ingredients in miso soup. They are miso paste, dashi soup, and additional ingredients like tofu, vegetables, and seaweed.
Miso soup typically consists of more than just miso paste and hot water. It also includes a soup stock called dashi, which is usually made from bonito flakes or kelp, and also contains additional ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, or vegetables.
Yes, miso soup is generally considered healthy due to its nutritious ingredients. Miso paste, the main ingredient in miso soup, is made from fermented soybeans and other grains and contains beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health. Additionally, miso soup often contains other healthy ingredients, such as seaweed, tofu, and vegetables. However, it's worth noting that miso soup can be high in sodium, so it's important to consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Miso soup can be vegan or non-vegan, depending on the type of dashi used. Traditional dashi is usually made with bonito flakes, which are dried fish flakes, making it non-vegan. However, there are vegan alternatives available, such as kombu dashi or shiitake mushroom dashi. Miso soup can be considered a vegan dish if vegan dashi is used.
Miso soup is a staple dish in Japanese cuisine and is consumed on a daily basis in many households. It is often served as a part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We have it almost every day for breakfast.
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Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
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11 Easy Miso Soup RecipesPrint Pin Save Saved!
- Miso Paste
- Dashi Stock
- Ingredients of choice
- In Japanese cooking, it is common to cut tofu on your palm. Doing so lets you gently transfer the tofu directly into the pot after cutting without worrying about breaking it.
- Always add miso paste after turning off the heat. If you boil the miso, you will lose the excellent flavor.
- When adding the miso to your soup, stir gently (try not to break the tofu).
- I highly recommend the miso measuring whisk for convenience and precision!