What does miso soup taste like? Which ingredients make up this delicious soup? This article will explore miso soup's flavors and components to understand its unique taste better.
Have you seen miso soup on the menu at Japanese restaurants and wondered what it is?
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup and is always served alongside steamed rice and other classic dishes - the perfect accompaniment to any meal!
In this article, you will learn the unique flavors of miso soup and discover what makes it so special, from its ingredients to delicious recipes. Read on!
- What Does Miso Soup Taste Like?
- What is Miso Soup?
- What's in Miso Soup?
- Key Ingredient #1 - Miso Paste
- Key Ingredients #2 - Dashi
- Key Ingredients #3 - Ingredients of Choice
- Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients
- What to Serve With
- Varieties of Miso Soup Recipes
- Learn More About Miso Soup and Miso Paste
- Thanks For Stopping By!
- 📖 Recipe
- 11 Easy Miso Soup Recipes
- 💬 Comments
What Does Miso Soup Taste Like?
A bowl of miso soup is a flavorful and savory experience, with hints of sweetness from the added ingredients. This flavor profile is brought by the key ingredients - miso paste and dashi stock.
Miso soup can be an exciting and flavorful journey for your taste buds. Depending on what is added, the dish may take on a sweet or savory tone; onion and satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato) bring in hints of sweetness, while dried seaweed adds depth with its ocean aroma and chewy texture, not to mention the creamy smoothness that comes with adding tofu.
What is Miso Soup?
Miso soup is a traditional soup and the basis of Japanese cuisine. The main ingredients are miso paste, dashi stock, and other components such as tofu, vegetables, and seaweed.
It is a savory soup and goes well with any meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but the morning is the best time as it warms your body inside out.
Have you ever felt at peace when eating miso soup? It's proven that miso paste contains soothing properties to help you relax and calm.
It's easy to make that even my six-year-old boy can make it on his own. When I was a child, the first recipe I learned from my mother was how to make miso soup. It's the most simple soup in Japanese cooking!
What's in Miso Soup?
What's in miso soup? Here are the key ingredients:
- Miso paste
- Dashi (soup stock)
- Ingredients of your choice (such as tofu and seaweed)
Each ingredient adds its unique contribution to the flavor. Its complexity comes from the balance of umami, saltiness, and sweetness.
In the following section, let's go over each and discover why certain tastes are so delicious!
Key Ingredient #1 - Miso Paste
What is miso paste? This information might be overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with Japanese cooking, but please stick with me.
Miso is a fermented paste, the main ingredient for making homemade miso soup, and an essential condiment like soy sauce in Japanese cooking. It's nutritious, healthy, and improves your immune system (see the health benefits here).
Type of Miso Paste
There are different types of miso, but Kome miso paste (rice miso) is the standard (80% of miso production in Japan), made from soybeans, koji rice, and salt.
Other types of miso are Mugi miso paste (barley miso) and Mame miso paste (dark miso).
Since Kome miso paste is widely used in Japanese kitchens (I also use kome miso), I will focus on it in the following sections.
The Difference in The Color
Have you ever seen miso with various colors? Miso paste has different tastes and flavors depending on its color.
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 time (1 to 3 months). Slightly sweet with a light aroma.
- Yellow miso paste (awairo miso) - Medium fermentation time (4 to 8 months). It's mainstream miso.
- Red miso paste (aka miso) - Long fermentation time (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.
Key Ingredients #2 - Dashi
Dashi stock is another essential ingredient in miso soup. It brings a unique savory flavor and aroma to the soup. You could substitute it with vegetable broth, but you won't experience the authentic taste.
General dashi ingredients are Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes), Kombu seaweed (Kelp), Dried shiitake mushrooms, and Niboshi (Baby anchovy).
There are three types of dashi:
- Awase dashi (katsuobushi and kombu) - Standard dashi for many Japanese dishes. Its deep umami taste and delicious aroma make it the perfect addition to any dish.
- Niboshi dashi - This fish stock has a strong aroma from the ocean. I love it and almost always use this dashi for my miso soup.
- Vegan dashi (Dried shiitake and kombu) - This is plant-based dashi with a mild and subtle flavor.
You can make it from scratch or use instant dashi powder (dashi granules) to save time.
Key Ingredients #3 - Ingredients of Choice
The last one is the ingredients you pick for your miso soup.
So, what can you add to miso soup? A lot of things! The choices are limitless! The most popular ones are tofu, green onions, and wakame seaweed.
See more variations below.
Variety of Ingredients
If you are looking for more variety, here's a list of ingredients!
- Root vegetables: Daikon, onion, carrot, sweet potato
- Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, bok choy, komatsuna
- Mushrooms: Shiitake, shimeji, maitake, enoki
- Dried seaweed: Wakame seaweed, kombu, nori
- Soybean products: Silken 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!
My favorites are kabocha, onion, and sweet potatoes! These ingredients add a delicious sweetness to the soup.
Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients
If your regular grocery store isn't stocking a full range of Japanese ingredients, try these spots:
- Japanese grocery stores: Mitsuwa marketplace, Marukai
- Local Asian grocery stores or Asian market
- Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon
What to Serve With
Savor your own miso soup alongside a bowl of rice, delicious mains, a crisp salad, and a side of pickles!
- Japanese Steamed Rice
- Tofu Miso Soup
- Soy Meat Karaage
- Pickled Napa Cabbage
- Tomatoes and green leafy salad
Varieties of Miso Soup Recipes
Are you looking for delicious Japanese miso soup recipes? Click here to check out ten straightforward miso soup recipes.
Here are some of the classic miso soup recipes:
Miso soup is one of the most simple and easy Japanese dishes. I hope you will enjoy the authentic flavor!
Learn More About Miso Soup and Miso Paste
Thanks For Stopping By!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡. If you've tried this recipe (or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!
Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
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.
More Recipes You Might Like
- Tofu Miso Soup
- Mushroom Miso Soup
- Natto Miso Soup
- Kabocha Miso Soup
- Daikon Miso Soup (Niboshi Dashi)
- Summer Vegetable Miso Soup
- Japanese Napa Cabbage Soup
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!