Miso Soup Recipe: A Quick Guide to Authentic Japanese Soup

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Have you ever wondered about the delicious miso soup commonly served at Japanese restaurants? Here’s a quick guide you need to know about this classic soup!

tofu miso soup in a bowl.

This guide is your go-to for mastering the art of miso soup. I’ll walk you through essential ingredients, offer tips on selection, and provide a simple five-step recipe for crafting this comforting dish at home. Let’s dive in!

What is Miso Soup?

tofu miso soup in a saucepan.

Miso soup (miso shiru in Japanese) is a staple of Japanese cuisine and a beloved traditional soup. The 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.

Key Ingredients in Miso Soup

miso soup ingredients illustration.

What is miso soup made of? As mentioned earlier, miso soup’s key ingredients are:

  1. Miso paste
  2. Dashi (soup stock)
  3. Ingredients of your choice

Let’s find out each component in the following section.

1. Miso Paste

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).

Type of Miso Paste

3 different 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 by 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 an 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.

2. Japanese Dashi Stock

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. (Learn more in What is dashi?)

How to Make Dashi

3 types of dashi soup stock.

There are three ways to make dashi:

  • Homemade dashi
  • Instant dashi powder or granules
  • Dashi packets

In the following section, we’ll go over each type in detail.

Homemade Dashi Broth From Scrach

3 types Japanese homemade dashi soup.

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:

Instant Dashi Powder

3 types of Japanese 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.

  • 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.

Dashi Packet

dashi packet.

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. Soybean products (tofu, aburaage), vegetables, dried seaweed, and clams are commonly used.

Variety of ingredients

ingredients of choice for miso soup.

Here are the ingredients you can pick for your miso soup!

  • Root vegetables – Daikon radish, sweet potato, carrot, onion, potatoes, gobo
  • Leafy vegetables – Spinach, bok choy
  • Other vegetables – Green onions, chives, scallions, spring onions, kabocha squash, tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, zucchini, cabbage, napa cabbage, moyashi sprout
  • Mushrooms – Shiitake mushrooms, eringi mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms
  • Seaweed – Dried wakame seaweed, aosa, tororo kombu
  • Soybean products – Silken tofu, firm tofu, aburaage, atsuage, natto
  • And many more – Egg, clams, fish cake

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!

Tofu Miso Soup Ingredients

Ingredients for tofu miso soup.

For example, what’s in tofu miso soup? It’s one of the most popular miso soup recipes, and they are made of these ingredients:

  • Miso paste
  • Katuobushi dashi powder
  • Tofu
  • Scallions or green onions

Creating something delicious at home is easier than you think with just a few simple ingredients. Let’s dive into how to make it!

How to Make Miso Soup: 5 Easy Steps

5 Easy Steps to Make Miso Soup.

Making miso soup is a breeze! Gather the ingredients, and you will have delicious, fragrant broth ready in 5 minutes (if you use instant dashi powder).

How to make it is so simple and easy as follows:

  • Step 1 – Cut soup ingredients of choice
  • Step 2 – Put soup 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
Tofu miso soup in a Japanese soup bowl.

That’s it! Miso soup is best enjoyed when it’s hot, so serve it immediately!

By the way, we use these Miso soup bowls (Owan in Japanese) to serve miso soup. It’s light and easy to hold. In Japan, the tradition is to enjoy food from a bowl held in your palm. (It’s perfectly acceptable to drink directly from a small plate in Japanese culture).

Easy Miso Soup Recipes You’ll Love

miso soup in a soup bowl and saucepan.

Are you looking for delicious miso soup recipes? You can check these easy-to-follow miso soup recipes, such as mushroom miso soup, daikon miso soup, wakame seaweed miso soup, and more. I hope you will enjoy the authentic flavor!

Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients

miso paste section at a grocery store.

If your regular grocery store isn’t stocking a full range of Japanese ingredients, try these spots:

FAQ

What is the main ingredient in miso?

There are three main ingredients in miso soup. They are miso paste, dashi soup, and additional ingredients like tofu, vegetables, and seaweed.

Is miso soup just miso paste and hot water?

Miso soup typically consists of more than just miso paste and hot water. It also includes a soup stock called dashi, usually made from bonito flakes or kelp, and contains additional ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, or vegetables.

Are miso soups healthy?

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.

Why is miso soup not vegan?

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, vegan alternatives, such as kombu dashi or shiitake mushroom dashi, are available. Miso soup can be considered a vegan dish if vegan dashi is used.

How often do Japanese eat miso soup?

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.

What is miso soup taste like?

A bowl of miso soup is flavorful, rich in umami, with hints of sweetness from the added vegetables such as onion and sweet potato.

Thanks For Stopping By!

tofu miso soup in a saucepan.

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 in a Japanese soup bowl.

Miso Soup Recipe with Tofu and Scallion

5 from 1 vote
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Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 8 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Juri Austin

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan 18cm/7 inches
  • Miso measuring whisk

Ingredients

  • 1 Tofu, 200g, 7oz
  • 1/2 Scallion, 50g, 1.7oz
  • tsp Dashi powder, 5g
  • 3 c Water, 720ml
  • 2 Tbsp Miso paste, 36g, 1.3oz

Instructions

  • Preparation: Chop scallion, cut tofu into cubes.
  • Bring to a boil: Put the scallions, tofu, dashi powder, and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Simmer: Lower the heat and simmer for one minute.
  • Add miso paste: Turn off the heat, add miso (use a miso measuring whisk if you have it), and stir gently until it dissolves.

Video

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.6g | Protein: 4.6g | Fat: -19g | Sodium: 626mg | Sugar: 1.6g
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: tofu miso soup
Did You Make this recipe?Please Leave a star rating!

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