Miso soup can be made as a breakfast, an appetizer, a stand-alone soup course, or a full entree. Its presence in Japanese cooking runs the gamut from home cooking to high cuisine. Learn the basics of making your own miso soup and then explore many delicious and seasonal variations!
If you've never eaten it before, miso is a paste that is made by fermenting soybeans. The result is a high-protein, vegetarian foodstuff that can be used in lots of different ways: in sauces, as a spread and as a main ingredient in soup. To make miso from scratch takes from one to three years, so just about everyone who cooks with it buys a ready-made form. Miso will keep for many months in the refrigerator, so it's easy to have it fresh and ready for cooking.
The Simplicity of Miso Soup
Want to know the simplest miso soup recipe I know?
To cook miso soup, the bare basics are just take a cup of water and heat it almost to boiling. Dissolve two tablespoons of miso paste in the water, mixing well. When the soup has cooled to a comfortable temperature for drinking, you may do so.
There you go. That's the simplest way possible to prepare miso soup. Just about everything else involves seasoning a fish stock base, and then adding some other bits of vegetables, tofu or noodles for further flavor or color.
I've made super-simple miso soup, running late for work in the morning. The most over-the-top miso soup I ever ate was served to me one morning at the Harbin Hot Springs, in Northern California. It was like my miso was having a freak out, with tons of mushrooms, greens, peppers and other stuff swirling around in it.
My "usual" miso routine is a breakfast one. A waitress at a sushi restaurant once praised my morning consumption of miso soup as being "very Japanese." I'm still trying various types of miso to see which one I like best. I make a simple fish stock with some bonito and seaweed. There's no formula for that. I started out with measurements off a recipe once-upon-a-time, but I season it by eye and taste now. A sprinkling of green onion goes in. There might be a few slivers of noodle or a paper-thin shaving of carrot. A few cubes of fried tofu are lovely but I often don't do that part. I like to drink my miso right out of the bowl, so I tend to make it so it doesn't require a utensil.
Basic Miso Ingredients - got an ingredient you can't find locally?
Here are some of the base ingredients used in Miso Soup, for those of you who don't have easy access to an Asian food market. If you do have an Asian market near you, and you're bewildered by the variety of miso types, pick a white or yellow variation to start, and then you can try a new brand when you've used the first one. Whether to use ready-made fish stock or to brew your own is your choice.
Types of Miso - miso paste is fermented soybeans (sometimes with other ingredients)
Depending on what grains and ingredients are fermented along with the soybeans, the miso paste will develop a different taste and the texture will vary a bit. Some miso pastes are grainier (grittier) than others, some are more salty or more mild.
For example, any of the flavors below could be any of the four colors, depending on their age. There are even more flavors and ingredient combinations than what is listed here.
- Genmai - soybeans and brown rice
- Hatcho - soybeans and sea salt
- Kome - soybeans and white rice
- Mugi - soybeans and barley
- Natto - soybeans and ginger
Colors of Miso - How old is your miso?
How long the miso has been fermented is what gives it the particular color. Miso paste can be fermented for as little as one month or as much as three years.
- White - very light flavor. Best for light cooking and summer soups.
- Yellow - a bit saltier and stronger than White. A good intensity for moderate soups and sauces.
- Red - saltier and stronger in flavor than Yellow. Favored for winter soups.
- Dark Brown or Black - very strong flavor and smell. Best for rich cooking, such as with meat or stews.
Instant Miso Soup - a hearty meal with just some hot water
I take instant miso with me when I travel or go camping. It's great for breakfast or for if I need a quick snack with some protein. I have some packed away in my earthquake/disaster kit.
Rachel's Simple Breakfast Miso
My personal breakfast brew
I often do this as a winter morning beverage, although on overheated summer mornings, it's a nice light start when the thought of having to cook makes you not want to eat at all.
I get all my ingredients in bulk from Asian grocery stores or organic/health food groceries.
~ 1 piece kombu seaweed, approx 2"
~ 1 C. water
~ 1 T dried bonito flakes
~ 1 T miso paste (white miso)
How to Prepare:
Put water and kombu into a small pan and simmer, removing kombu when water starts to boil. Then add the bonito, and turn off the heat, letting the flakes steep for a few minutes. The stronger you let them steep, the stronger the fish flavor of the broth. Spoon the miso paste into a large mug or small bowl. Pour fish broth over the miso through a strainer to filter out the bonito flakes, and stir, blending well. Let cool to a comfortable warm temperature, then drink.
Pretty easy, huh? You want to make sure never to incorporate miso into water that is at boiling temperature, as it ruins the flavor. Any type of miso paste can work, but I tend to use white for this one as the kombu and bonito add enough of a salty flavor already.
Additions For Variation:
(all of these I add along with the miso paste, and they cook to a nice tenderness while the miso broth cools down to drinking temperature, but experiment to see what you like.)
~ a sprinkling of green onion, sliced into teeny bits
~ a few extremely thin slices of carrot. You should be almost able to see thru the carrot slices.
~ a pinch of noodles (ramen or somen) broken small enough to soak entirely in the mug of broth
~ a few cubes of firm tofu
Ode to Miso - Learn more about miso and miso soup
Here are some links to give you the history, culture and nutritional background of miso, a fermented soybean paste. A staple of Japanese cooking, it now graces tables and pleases palates around the world.
- keiichiro's misunderstanding
How to have soup
World's Healthiest Foods: Non-profit foundation providing reliable, scientifically accurate, personalized information for convenient and enjoyable healthy eating.
- It's Japanese Soul Food
Vegetarian Journal January / February 2000 -- Miso Soup
Miso (soya bean paste) is an important and healthy ingredient in Japanese cooking. Used for soups and flavouring.
- Miso, Miso Soup, Miso Paste, Miso Ingredients
Specialist Japanese foods retailer UK. Buy Miso online. Stockists of Instant miso soups, miso paste and miso bowls. Authentic Japanese products.
- Mama's Miso Soup
Most middle-aged Japanese are instantly transported back to childhood at the mere mention of their mama's miso soup. Preferences for one type of miso or another are typically linked to regional identity, though each household will develop its own, in
- The Miso Soup Song
Song Lee sings a well-known North Korean folk tune called "The Miso Soup Song."
- Make Your Own Miso Paste
Make "Miso" at home, from Japan Interactive
- Miso Soup Might Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Soybeans contain high levels of estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. These compounds are considered "weak estrogens" because they are about a thousand times weaker than estradiol, your body's regular estrogen.
More Miso Soup Than You Can Imagine
Here are 110 different variations for preparing miso soup, broken down in chapters based on ingredients. This is the ultimate miso soup cookbook!
How To Make Miso Soup When Camping
This meal is easy for camping and can be made hearty for hungry backpackers.
Here's a version of Miso Soup that works for camping and backpacking. It's for situations where you are going unrefrigerated/sans ice, but where you will still have the ability to boil water.
This recipe is a 2-3 person meal, depending on activity level and appetites. Three car campers or two backpackers is the estimate, your consumption may vary. This recipe can be made heartier by adding another packet of ramen noodles, a good option for hikers and climbers.
I made this for dinner one night when my friend Calyxa and I were in Nevada, having one of our regular road trips. The picture shown here is the funky tofu cubes I got. It was either these ones with little faces on them or some plain ones. The appropriate choice for a road trip was obvious.
3 packets instant Miso Soup
1 packet Instant Ramen (any flavor)
1/2 cup dehydrated mixed vegetables
1 package freeze-dried tofu cubes
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms
1/2 oz dried green onion (optional)
1 cooking pot that will hold a minimun of 1 quart of water
1 mug or cup that can hold boiling water
1 stirring utensil (a spoon is good but a fork or chopsticks work too)
1. Pour approx 32 oz of water into the cooking pot and bring to a boil.
2. Pour off about a half cup of water into the mug/cup. Dissolve the miso soup packets in this water and hold for now.
3. Rehydrate the tofu cubes for about two minutes by themselves in the pot of boiling water.
4. Add the vegetable mix, green onions and mushrooms, stir, and let the mix simmer covered for two minutes.
5. Add the Ramen noodles to the tofu/veggie soup mixture and continue to simmer for two more minutes. (discard the ramen flavoring)
6. Add the miso soup mixture that is in the separate cup, stir well and serve.
Miso Soup Recipes - the variations are literally endless
I've tried to pick recipes that offer something distinctive about their choice of ingredients so that you really have a difference to choose from here. People who are very serious about their miso soup do not give out their recipes, preferring to keep their individual formula private.
- Miso Soup - All Recipes
You can use yellow, white, or red miso paste for the soup, depending on your preference.
- Miso Soup - japanese vegetarian recipe
Anyone who eats Japanese food regularly will most probably be familiar with miso soup. Miso soup is consumed for breakfast and is also often part of lunch and dinner accompanied with rice and pickles.
- Miso soup
Miso - TofuDashi (niboshi-dashi)
- Miso Soup
This variation includes potato
- BLACK MOON - Japanese Miso Recipes.
How to make traditional Japanese dishes using miso.
- Asian: Miso Soup Recipes by Angel
Traditional and Western variations on Miso
- Emeril's Favorite Miso Soup : Food Network
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002
- Korean Bean Curd (Miso) Soup - All Recipes
Korean bean curd paste and Korean hot pepper paste are the featured ingredients in this quick soup with zucchini, potato, mushrooms and tofu.
- MISO-GINGER CONSOMME
Recipe at Epicurious.com
- RecipeSource: Misoshiru
MISOSHIRU (CLEAR SOUP WITH SOYBEAN PASTE)
- Miso soup variations
Excellent suggestions for what vegetables to cook with and for how long, also what not to add to miso soup.
- Chiva-Som vegetarian miso soup
Chiva-Som's vegetarian miso soup recipe, as seen on Channel 9's Celebrity Overhaul series. This quantity serves four people, has 70 calories and 0.7g of fat.
- Miso Soup from Fatfree Vegan Recipes archive
(I should note that I don't actually have a recipe for this - I'm just typing what I do - this is my children's' favorite breakfast believe it or not!)
Easy Miso Marinade
You can also marinate meat by coating it in miso paste. Coat the entire cut of meat with about a half inch of miso. Refrigerate covered for 12-24 hours, then wipe off the miso. Meat can then be broiled or grilled.
Seasonal Miso Soups - fresh and in-season are the key buzzwords for miso ingredients
It's traditional in Japan to vary your miso soup by season. You can never go wrong by using ingredients that are in season.
- BBC - Food - Recipes - Spring miso soup
by Jill Dupleix from Saturday Kitchen
- Spring Miso Soup: Soups Stews Vegan Vegetarian
Miso soups are great any time of year. Change the kind of miso with the seasons: darker, richer miso in the fall and winter; lighter, less-salted ones for spring and summer.
- Meals For You: Summer Miso Soup
Prep: 5 min, Cook: 10 min.
- Summer and Winter Miso Soup
My usual instruction for following any recipe is to take the cookbook with the recipe (not your notes) with you to any natural foods store.
- Autumn Miso Soup
Autumn Miso Soup recipe, featuring soba noodles
- Pumpkin miso soup
A nice autumn variation on miso soup.
- Winter Miso Soup - from Whole Foods Market
While unusual for many North Americans, miso soup often serves as a power breakfast in Japan. Miso is a high-protein fermented soy product with a salty flavor that can be very health-promoting.
- japanese winter vegetable stew with miso
Japanese Winter Vegetable Stew With Miso, Yield: 4 Servings