Miso is thought to have originated in China and was brought to Japan by Buddhist priests about 1,300 years ago. It was produced from fermented salt, grains, and soybeans and was used to keep food fresh during the summer.
Miso is created with various components throughout Japan, including rice in the north, sweet white miso around Kyoto, soy in the central Aichi prefecture, and barley in the south. Minerals like zinc, copper, manganese, and B vitamins and vitamin K are abundant in miso. Antioxidant phytonutrients are also found in soy miso (source). It also feeds healthy bacteria to the gut as fermented food.
Most grocery stores and Asian markets include miso paste in the refrigerated department. It may seem like an odd ingredient to buy just for soup, but it’s cheap, healthful, and versatile enough to use in soups, salad dressings, marinades, and Asian-inspired foods. As a result, I thought it would be a good addition to my pantry.
What is Miso Soup?
Miso soup is a classic Japanese soup composed mostly of miso paste, Dashi (broth), vegetables, seaweed, and tofu.
Because of its high protein content, this simple soup is filling and fulfilling, and it can be customized to suit everyone’s tastes and what you have on hand.
Miso Soup: How to Make it?
Miso soup is traditionally cooked using a broth called “dashi,” made by soaking seaweed like kombu in water and boiling with bonito flakes (flakes of dried fermented fish). Here’s how to make your own! On the other hand, Ours is vegan and made with vegetable broth, which isn’t quite traditional but is something we always have on hand.
The veggie broth is heated first in this 15-minute, one-pan version.
To remove the clumps, mix the miso paste in a small amount of boiling water. When the soup is taken from the heat, the outcome is a smooth, liquid mixture that is added. Remove from the equation.
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made primarily of miso paste, Dashi (broth), vegetables, seaweed, and tofu.
This simple soup is filling and satisfying because of its high protein level, and it can be customized to fit everyone’s tastes and what you have on hand.
4 cups vegetable broth (for a more traditional miso soup, using dashi / see above remarks)
1 nori sheet (dry seaweed / optional / cut into large rectangles / yields 1/4 cup)
3–4 tablespoons miso paste (fermented soybean or chickpea paste), with or without bonito (fish flavor, though bonito makes it non-vegan-vegetarian-friendly)
1/2 cup green chard (or other tough green) chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup firm tofu (cubed / for a more traditional miso soup, use silken tofu)
In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a low simmer.
Meanwhile, place miso in a small bowl, add a little hot water, and whisk until smooth (beginning at the lower end of the range). This will prevent it from clumping together when added to the soup later. Remove from the equation.
Cook for 5 minutes with the chard (or other greens of choice), green onion, and tofu (if using silken, add at the end of cooking). Then stir in the nori. Remove from the heat and toss in the miso mixture.
If preferred, season with extra miso or a pinch of sea salt. Warm the dish before serving. When it’s fresh, it’s the best.
What are the Homemade Miso Soup’s Health Benefits?
Miso soup is consumed regularly in Japan because we feel it is a gateway to good health. Miso soup, like green tea, might be considered the elixir of the Japanese diet. Here are just a few of miso soup’s health benefits:
Aids in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system
Drinking miso soup helps to enhance general digestion and nutrition absorption because of its beneficial microorganisms.
Good nutrient source
Minerals, such as copper, manganese, protein, Vitamin K, and zinc, are abundant in miso. As a result, consuming a bowl of miso soup every day is like taking a natural health booster.
Beneficial to the bones
Many bone-building minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese, are included in miso soup, which helps minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
Strengthen your heart
Miso’s natural chemical constituents, such as Vitamin K2, linoleic acid, and saponin, have been shown to lower cholesterol and lessen the risk of heart disease.
You’ll want to create your own miso soup if you want to get the many health advantages of miso soup. Because instant miso soups tend to be heavier in sodium and may contain other preservatives, they will not be as good. There are several fantastic brands out there, so study the labels carefully.
I hope you enjoy this healthful soup every day now that you can make miso soup at home!
What are the Serving Suggestions for Miso Soup?
Serve this miso soup as an appetizer, side dish, or a whole dinner. I serve it with cooked rice or soba noodles when I eat it as a main course. If I want the soup to be even heartier, I add more vegetables. This recipe works nicely with turnips, shiitake mushrooms, radishes, carrots, kabocha squash, and greens such as spinach or bok choy. Before stirring in the miso slurry, add them to the Dashi and cook until soft.
If I’m serving this miso soup as a starter or side dish, I’ll serve it with Tamago Kake Gohan or okonomiyaki, both Japanese-inspired dishes. For a fun, at-home sushi night, Jack and I enjoy it with vegan sushi, shiitake maki, or avocado mango sushi.
What is Miso Paste and How to Use it?
Miso paste is a thick paste made from fermented, crushed soybeans and is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. It’s salty, earthy, and bursting with flavor!
Apart from producing miso soup, Miso paste can also be used as a seasoning/marinade in a variety of recipes, such as this miso chicken.
Which Miso is Best for Soup?
I like to make my soup using white miso because I like my soup to be light in density and flavor.
There is, however, no hard and fast rule on which type to use. For a heartier soup, use red miso or a blend of white and red miso, smooth or chunky. White miso has a mild, sweet flavor and is best used in light soups, salad dressings, and seafood marinades due to its shorter fermentation duration.
Because of its extended fermentation, red miso is saltier, more robust, and earthier and is used in heartier soups, stews, and meat marinades.
Even miso paste comes with Dashi mixed together, so all you have to do is add hot water. When I asked a Japanese friend for a miso recommendation, she advised me to get the most costly one I could afford. When I’m shopping for miso at a Japanese market, I always check the ingredients and choose one that contains only non-GMO soybeans, rice, and salt.
Dashi: How to Make it?
Dashi is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
It’s produced by soaking kombu, or dried kelp strips, in hot water. After removing the kombu, the water is infused with katsuobushi, and smoked bonito flakes (fish flakes), then squeezed away. Much Japanese cooking relies on this pale yellow stock, which has a smoky, somewhat salty flavor.
Dashi is used in dipping sauces, savory egg custards, poaching or braising, and clear soups like miso soup. Once prepared, Dashi can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
When I assisted Japanese cookbook author Elizabeth Andoh during a culinary demonstration of Japanese recipes focusing on the cuisine’s essential components, I first learned to prepare miso soup.
She demonstrated how to make Dashi in the traditional method and showed us huge pink smoked bonito shavings. She also showed us pre-measured packets of significantly smaller and darker bonito flakes and quick dashi granules. There’s no shame in utilizing them to make your life easier, as they’re commonly utilized in Japanese households.
What is Dashi Powder, and How does it Work?
Chicken bouillon is to chicken broth what dashi powder is to Dashi. Dried bonito powder and extract, salt, sugar, and other flavors and ingredients make instant dashi, and MSG is frequently used. (It’s worth noting that dried kelp is a natural MSG source.)
Dashi powder can be used by dissolving it in water or sprinkling it directly onto a dish during cooking, just like any other dried seasoning. This is a great solution when you simply need a modest amount of Dashi, and Honda is the quick-dashi brand I see the most.
Even though kombu, bonito flakes, wakame, and miso are becoming more widely available in supermarkets, I still prefer to buy them from a Japanese market. They are also available in Chinese and Korean markets, though not in the same quantity or variety as Japanese markets.
Making Miso Soup: Tips and Tricks
Miso soup is simple to make, but there are a few things you should know before getting started:
Many cooks will rinse the kelp or use a moist towel to carefully wipe away the white powdered residue. I skip this step since the white residue, known as mannitol, adds a lot of umami to the soup and flavors it.
If you don’t remove the kelp from the water before it boils, it will add a bitter flavor and sticky the soup.
It’s fine to bring the Dashi to a boil once the kelp and bonito flakes have been removed. If you boil the soup after adding the miso, many nutrients will be lost. Miso is high in choline, niacin, folate, vitamin K, and probiotics.
Submerge a big fine mesh strainer in the Dashi and whisk the miso in the broth inside the sieve to dissolve the miso without leaving any huge lumps. If your miso is a little chunky and there are leftover chunks (of soybeans) in the sieve, scrape them into the soup.
Alternatively, you can use a fork to dissolve the miso in a bowl or cup with a little dashi, then return the mixture to the stove.
What are Other Variations of Miso Soup?
Miso soups come in a limitless variety of flavors, depending on the location and personal tastes. Try these variations on the traditional miso soup:
Make a vegan version by replacing the bonito flakes with dried mushrooms and soaking liquid.
Cook veggies like carrots, potatoes, and kabocha squash in the Dashi before whisking in the miso for a heartier version.
Before adding the miso, put wild greens like watercress or spinach in the soup.
What are the Best Places to Look for Ingredients for Miso Soup?
Fortunately, ingredients like miso, kombu, and bonito flakes have been much more readily available in recent years. For the freshest and most diverse selection of ingredients, an Asian grocery shop is always your best bet. Whole Foods carries a few different types of miso and kombu and bonito flakes. Look through your local grocery store’s “foreign” department; you might be amazed at what they have! You can always look for ingredients online if you’re having problems finding them.
Miso soup is a classic Japanese dish cooked with dashi stock, soybean paste, and various other ingredients that vary by area. It’s filling, warming, and perfectly complements any Japanese meal. Let’s prepare traditional Japanese miso soup from scratch!
Miso soup has long been a staple of Japanese cuisine, and it’s usually served as a side dish rather than as a main course. It’s also a quick and easy method to include vegetables and other locally sourced products.
Because the flavor of miso soup varies based on the soup stock and miso paste used, you can drink it every day without becoming bored.