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Miso Soup

Updated on May 26, 2014

Irrasshaimase!

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.

Ingredients:

~ 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.

More Miso Soup Than You Can Imagine

1: The Book of Miso (Savory Soy Seasoning)
1: The Book of Miso (Savory Soy Seasoning)

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.

Ingredients:

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)

Minimum Utensils:

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)

Cooking Instructions:

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.

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.

See Miso Soup In Action! - see some of the myriad mysteries of miso

Squidinner Soup Winner - Oct 2008

Squidinner Soup Winner - Oct 2008
Squidinner Soup Winner - Oct 2008

Miso Messages and More

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    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Miso is a great source of probiotics, hence very healthy. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Miso soup is probably one of my most favorite comfort food as I live in Japan. My favorite miso soup is one with leeks and tofu. I also love it with sliced potatoes. You are right though that they are extremely healthy so glad to know you like it.

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      I love miso soup. Great recipes!

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      Miso soup is one of my favorite parts of eating at sushi or hibachi restaurants!

    • Mrcoolguy LM profile image

      Mrcoolguy LM 4 years ago

      It's been such a long time since i had miso soup, now i crave it :3

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      Miso soup is delicious - I like your how to make it whilst camping! Great for an adventure traveler.

    • mrdrinkking profile image

      mrdrinkking 4 years ago

      Well done lens! I have yet to try Miso yet though.

    • SarahDanial1 profile image

      SarahDanial1 4 years ago

      Yum. I adore a good miso.

    • DigiDollars profile image

      DigiDollars 4 years ago

      Who doesn't love miso soup?

      I enjoy this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anytime....

      Good job on the lens.

    • profile image

      rebekahzipporah 4 years ago

      Thank you, your lens cleared up my questions about the different types of miso out there.

    • Pinasheart profile image

      Pinasheart 4 years ago

      I love love love miso soup! I need to get some of those cute little miso bowls for when I make some!

    • FatLossDiva profile image

      FatLossDiva 4 years ago

      I love miso soup. Could do with some of your simple breakfast miso right about now. Great lens!

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 4 years ago

      I love miso soup, one of my favorite japanese dishes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rymom28 profile image

      Rymom28 4 years ago

      I learned a lot reading this, it looks very tasty!

    • atsad141 profile image

      atsad141 4 years ago

      Hey,,,, it's mouth watering recipe.

    • profile image

      MichaelDubrovnik 4 years ago

      I love digging miso soup in that tiny little bowl - always think that there is something left in the bottom :) Miso soup is fun!

    • KateAdamsUSA profile image

      KateAdamsUSA 4 years ago

      miso tastes so good and its healthy too with the seaweed and tofu.

    • profile image

      GetAcneFree 4 years ago

      Yum! I have got to try to make Miso Soup!

    • audioslaved19771 profile image

      audioslaved19771 4 years ago

      Fish miso is the best. I love it when mother cooks it every Sunday

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 4 years ago

      I love miso soup! So yummy! Cool lens.

    • nicks44 profile image

      nicks44 4 years ago

      I can honestly say I feel the need for a decent soup right now, maybe I'll give it a try!

    • peetred lm profile image

      peetred lm 4 years ago

      Yum! Thanks for all the great info on Miso Soup!

    • profile image

      tonyplaysthemambo 4 years ago

      Miso soup is my favorite food for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @Infohouse: really...

    • profile image

      JoshK47 4 years ago

      Sounds quite nice to me! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • yourtablecloth profile image

      yourtablecloth 4 years ago

      Yum! Looks delicious!

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 4 years ago from Texas

      I've never had this but have the word Miso on many of the cooking shows I watch. Glad I had a chance to read more about it on your lens. Best Wishes

    • Infohouse profile image

      Infohouse 4 years ago

      So simple ... so delicious.

    • jamesdesalvo lm profile image

      jamesdesalvo lm 4 years ago

      I lived on Maison soup in Japan. I thought I was the only one who had Maison in the morning!

    • profile image

      miller83 4 years ago

      Music soup to me is the most refreshing soup there is. I love it.

    • Beatlechan profile image

      Beatlechan 4 years ago

      I love miso soup, especially when I am coming out of a fast. I usually have it with seaweed, green onions, tofu as well. I sometimes throw in some left over white rice. Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love soup!

    • jholland profile image

      jholland 4 years ago

      Great lens. I love miso in the mornings as well, although I picked up the habit during a visit to Hawaii. My fave is just miso, water, tofu and green onions with a sprinkle of lime juice powder.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @street2linen: It works for chicken too, but you will want a lighter miso and less of it than when using it on beef.

    • street2linen profile image

      street2linen 4 years ago

      Love the marinade idea! Thank you!

    • Kae Yo profile image

      Kae Yo 4 years ago

      They all look so good! With all this cold weather, I am going to have to give these a try.

    • profile image

      HaviRose 4 years ago

      I haven't tried it yet, but this lens is making me hungry.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 4 years ago

      I absolutely love miso soup, and I try to get some whenever I can. So now am gonna give this a shot and make some myself. :)

    • makorip lm profile image

      makorip lm 4 years ago

      Had it constantly while on business in Japan. Now I have the answer

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      Love the soup! Yumm! I usually order it at restaurants but have never tried making my own.

    • MaureenCee profile image

      MaureenCee 4 years ago

      I really like Miso but moved quite a long way a few months ago and just realised I haven't bought any for replacement so I'll have to do it now this great lens has reminded me about it. the various recipes and ideas are wonderful and will be quite an adventure to try, thank you.

    • nikkinal profile image

      nikkinal 4 years ago

      Great lens. Looking forward to trying it for breakfast! Thank you.

    • petelovestoread profile image

      petelovestoread 4 years ago

      I love Miso soup! thanks for the recipes, and the great links

    • knitstricken profile image

      knitstricken 4 years ago

      miso grateful to have discovered this lens! great information and resources! thank you!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      A very Yummy Lens, I love Miso Soup; I'll have to put it on my shopping list I haven't had it around for a while; I use the concentrated paste in my cooking too.

    • makarenko profile image

      makarenko 4 years ago

      great stuff! I love the info on what miso is and how different flavors are achieved! and also really like how free-spirited your recipes are: a few choices to add or leave out and choose your own proportions yet keep it authentic by knowing and respecting the original food - that is the style of cooking I like best! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I am going to make some miso soup. It really sounds interesting and a good way to add legumes to the diet. I would not have thought of soup for breakfast but why not!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Some really Nice soup Recipes!

      Thnx for share

    • profile image

      slyounkin1 4 years ago

      yum

    • ThisisMissyMiss profile image

      Mommy 4 years ago from The Fabulous Midwest

      I love miso soup. Also, I think I recognize you from HubPages. Hello!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm not much of a cook, but even I could prepare miso soup the way you describe at the top of your lens. I love miso soup, but only eat it during my rare visit to a Japanese restaurant. I've never even thought of having it at home. I've bookmarked your lens and want to come back and try some of recipes. This is a terrific lens.

    • graphite75 profile image

      Tom 4 years ago

      Looks like a great soup. I've always wanted to try it.

    • profile image

      mrmonkey 4 years ago

      see it, i'm hungry

    • profile image

      john9229 4 years ago

      Nice Miso Soup. Great Lens!

      Is my son's favorite.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      This looks like a great food idea. I'm really glad that I found this lens. I'm going to try this. Yum. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      Just absolutlely love miso soup, even as an afternnoon beverage. Thanks for sharing.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Scarlettohairy: It takes a few attempts to find what you like best, but it's great to make your own!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I'm so happy I stumbled on this article. I love miso soup but have never made it. Now I will give it a try!

    • Adele Jeunette profile image

      Adele Jeunette 4 years ago

      Great site. My kid loves miso soup. Glad to see it's so easy to make.

    • summitsolutionsnw profile image

      summitsolutionsnw 4 years ago

      Miso soup is so delicious! Great lens!

    • profile image

      gaser983 4 years ago

      Very nice lens, I enjoy reading it!

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I adore miso soup...I must get into the habit of preparing it at home!

    • pumpum profile image

      pumpum 5 years ago

      I have never eaten this soup, but I would love to. We don't have any japanese reastaurants in my country ... :(( great lens

    • SpiritofChristmas profile image

      SpiritofChristmas 5 years ago

      I think you've covered miso, soup to nuts!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congrats on your Purple Star! The first time I tried Miso Soup was in a restaurant and I really didn't enjoy it (and I enjoy most foods). I realized later that I had tasted it when it was cold and it has to be hot to taste pleasant. Now I really like it. :)

    • kare2share profile image

      kare2share 5 years ago

      Now that the weather is finally cooling off here, I'm really starting to crave miso soup ("misoshiru" in Japanese) again! I prepare it the way you do, and I often add tofu or shiitake mushrooms. Thanks for sharing!

    • jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 5 years ago

      Miso soup is one of my favorites for breakfast. I like to add rice to it. Thanks for the great recipes and a very nice lens/

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      A superb lens. I've been eating miso for a long time and you've given me some great new ideas. I love the camping recipe.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      Love miso soup!

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 5 years ago

      great ideas and recipes -thank you.

    • Vikki w profile image

      Vikki w 5 years ago

      i just can't step out of the japanese restaurants without having any miso soup, simply superb!

    • iWrite4 profile image

      iWrite4 5 years ago

      You make me hungry :):) Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      miauw99 5 years ago

      Love the Japanese food, miso is one of them

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: 118 degrees Fahrenheit.....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yeah but what is the exact temperature for perfect miso?

    • Kara Hara profile image

      Kara Hara 5 years ago

      I love miso soup. Always have it with beef teppanyaki...delicious

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      It sound so easy in your description. Thanks Great lens

    • Blkeeslar profile image

      Billie Keeslar 5 years ago from Mississippi

      My granddaughters favorite, can't wait to make this for her!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Delicious!! I will prepare one tomorrow

    • jholland profile image

      jholland 5 years ago

      I got hooked on miso soup during a miserable business trip to Hawaii. I think it was the best part of that trip!

    • AustriaChick profile image

      AustriaChick 5 years ago

      Nothing better than the warm savory broth of Miso soup!

    • profile image

      moonlitta 5 years ago

      I don't like fish generally... so I wonder also about this soup? Still I learned new things from your lens- probably miso soup is not bad at all though a bit different from my routine?

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Yummy! I love the savory taste and lightness of miso soup. Thanks for sharing!

    • bluefire1020 profile image

      bluefire1020 5 years ago

      wow, my husband loves miso a lot! He must read this lens. Thanks for sharing! Squidlike! =)

    • profile image

      greenlungsofpoland 5 years ago

      Wow what a souper lens x got to give this a try sounds and looks delicious

    • mimthemom profile image

      mimthemom 5 years ago

      Yummy! One of my fav's!!!

    • profile image

      smartyAcc 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing..

    • InSearchOf LM profile image

      InSearchOf LM 5 years ago

      I'm craving some right now! Yummy.

    • profile image

      ladykida 5 years ago

      Gonna have to try me some Miso!

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 5 years ago from USA

      One of my ambitions for this year...have miso soup more often. Thanks!

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 5 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • profile image

      Tamara14 5 years ago

      Easy and delicious. Thanks! Happy holidays!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      This soup sounds delicious! I will surely have to try it!

    • profile image

      Rhythmgame 5 years ago

      miso is one of my favorites!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Miso soup is delicious. Miso was often featured with ramen noodles at a Japanese restaurant I liked in Gardena, California. Thanks for reminding me of this delicate flavor.

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      I always have miso soup when we go out for sushi but haven't tried making my own yet. Breakfast miso sounds interesting.

    • Northwestphotos profile image

      Northwestphotos 6 years ago

      I love miso soup! It's so good for you! Thanks for the great informational lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Delicious. I enjoyed this fantastic lens so much. Squid-liked!

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love soup for breakfast! Great Lense

    • Yourpersonalcon profile image

      Yourpersonalcon 6 years ago

      Love the breakfast miso recipe!