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Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Miso Soup is so much more than that little bowl that comes with your sushi. While the ingredients and technique are simple, the umami flavors are anything but and are foundational to Japanese cuisine. I’m going to show you how easy it is to make the simple miso soup you are probably already familiar with, as well as a couple different variations that I love.

 

Dashi

Dashi is the basis for many Japanese soups. It is as essential to Japanese food as stocks are to French food. But instead of roasting and  simmering bones for hours, dashi just requires some soaking and steeping. There are several ways to make a dashi. Some versions use small dried anchovies and combo, others use shiitake mushrooms and kombu. Today I’m going to share my favorite. It relies on the magic of kombu for an oceany flavor and katsuobushi for a smoky complexity. The first step is to soak the kombu kelp. I like to soak it overnight for maximum flavor, but at least one hour will still give you that umami blast.

simmer miso soup

As soon as the water comes to a simmer, you want to add the katsuobushi and turn off the heat. If you continue to simmer the kombu, the water will turn a little slimy.

Then I let it steep for 15 minutes and strain. Make sure to press down on the katsuobushi to extract all of the liquid. The dashi is then ready to use to make the miso soup, or it can be chilled in the fridge for a couple days.

strain miso soup

Simple Miso Soup

simple miso soup

This is the classic version you probably imagine when you hear miso soup. Soft tofu cubes and ribbons of seaweed swimming in a warming broth, with freshly minced scallions on top. You can’t beat this classic, its simplicity is comfort in a bowl!

wakame miso soup

miso soup miso

You can use any miso. The lighter white or yellow ones will have a more mild flavor while the darker red ones will be more robust. It’s important that you do not let the broth boil once you add the miso paste. Miso is a fermented food and it contains live, active cultures of bacteria, like those found in kimchi or yogurt. Boiling it will kill the probiotics in the miso, thereby denying you the health benefits it offers, like better digestive health.

So as soon as you add the miso, lower the heat, and add your final ingredients to warm up gently for a couple of minutes. If you are making miso soup that contains other vegetables, seafood, etc. that need to be cooked, then you should add them to the liquid BEFORE you add the miso paste. Then simmer your ingredients until they are cooked to your liking and next add the miso paste. You should follow this guideline for any type of miso soup to preserve all of that nutrition.

All that’s left to do now is to garnish with the wakame and scallions and serve!

Fish Cake Enoki Miso Soup

Now that you have this master recipe down, you can use it as a jumping off point to experiment with different variations. Adding fish cakes and enoki turns it into a heartier version. Fish cakes are a really fun ingredient, you can read more about them here. They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, just cut them up and add to your soup!

I like using enoki as a finishing touch to a lot of different foods. Because they can be eaten raw or cooked, enoki mushrooms are really versatile. Plus they look so cool and require virtually no prep-just cut off the growing medium at the base. They are great in salads, in stir fries, and in soups. When I use them in soups, I like to cut them in half so they’re not too long. Break them into little clumps and you’re good to go!

Like the basic miso soup, the fish cakes and the enoki are ready to eat and don’t need to be cooked, just warmed. So add them into your soup at the last minute and let them heat up before serving.

Country Vegetable Miso Soup

This version is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies. It’s also the one I saw most often on the table because it allows you to use up any small amount of veg you have hanging out in the drawers of your fridge. A little bit of beans sprouts, sure. Some napa cabbage, yup. How about a little daikon going right in? You get the drift. This version below has some cabbage, carrot, onion, and shiitake mushrooms. But feel free to use what you love or need to use up 🙂

Miso is pretty thick, and it can be hard to whisk in with all those vegetables. So I either push it through a sieve, or pour a ladle of the broth and mix it with the miso first to make it looser and easier to combine. If you just throw in the miso and stir it, you’re probably not going to get it completely smooth and will end up with small chunks of paste in your soup.

Miso soup with some steamed rice can be a meal all on its own, especially either of these heartier versions I’ve shared. Most Japanese people have miso soup several times a week and some every day. It’s nourishing, healthy, simple to make, and can be endlessly adapted.

Of course, you could also make some and throw a sushi party! Try all three, and let me know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

 

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recipe card miso soup

Miso Soup

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes (plus soaking time)
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Ingredients

Scale

Dashi:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup lightly packed katsuobushi (about 20 grams)
  • 2 pieces kombu the size of your hand about 4”x4”

Simple Miso Soup:

  • 4 cups dashi from above recipe*
  • 4 tablespoons miso (any kind you like)
  • ½ block of tofu, about 8 ounces tofu cut into small ½” cubes
  • 2 teaspoons dried wakame
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

Fish Cake and Enoki Version:

  • 4 cups dashi from above recipe*
  • 4 tablespoons miso (any kind you like)
  • 1 kamaboko fish cake
  • 1 pack enoki mushrooms
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

Country Vegetable Version:

  • 4 cups dashi from above recipe*
  • 4 tablespoons miso (any kind you like)
  • 1 carrot cut thin on an angle 
  • ½ onion sliced thin
  • head of cabbage (2 inch wedge) cut into medium dice about ¾
  • 4 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and cut into thick slices 
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

Instructions

First Make Dashi:

  1. Break the kombu into a couple of pieces and then soak the kombu in the water for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge. 
  2. Pour the kelp water into a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as the liquid starts to simmer, add the katsuobushi and turn off the heat. Let the liquid steep for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Strain the dashi through a sieve, pushing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
  4. Then use the stock immediately or transfer to the fridge or freeze. The stock keeps for 5 days in the fridge.

Simple Miso Soup:

  1. Rehydrate the wakame by putting it into a small bowl and covering it with a ½ cup of water. Set aside for 10 mins. Squeeze out the water before using.
  2. Bring the dashi to a simmer over medium heat. Add the miso to the broth and use a whisk to blend it in. You can also blend in the miso by using a small sieve and mixing the miso into the soup through the sieve. A final method is to take some of the hot broth out and mix the miso with the broth to form a loose paste, which can then be easily mixed into the broth in the pot. 
  3. Lower the heat to low and add the tofu. Let the tofu heat in the soup for a couple minutes. (Do not allow the soup to continue to simmer once the miso is added).
  4. Ladle into individual bowls, add the wakame and scallions, and serve immediately.

Fish Cake and Enoki Version:

  1. Bring the dashi to a simmer over medium heat. Add the miso to the broth and use a whisk to blend it in. You can also blend in the miso by using a small sieve and mixing the miso into the soup through the sieve. A final method is to take some of the hot broth out and mix the miso with the broth to form a loose paste, which can then be easily mixed into the broth in the pot. 
  2. Lower the heat to low and add the fish cakes and the enoki mushrooms. Let the fish cakes warm up in the soup for a minute. (Do not allow the soup to continue to simmer once the miso is added).
  3. Ladle into individual bowls, garnish with the scallions, and serve immediately.

Country Vegetable Version:

  1. Bring the dashi to a simmer in a deep saucepan over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and cabbage, and cover with a lid.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes until the veggies are tender. 
  3. Add the miso to the soup, either by using a small sieve and mixing the miso into the soup through the sieve or by taking some of the hot broth out and mixing the miso with the broth to form a loose paste, which can then be easily mixed into the broth in the pot. 
  4. As soon as the miso is mixed, turn off the heat. Do not allow the soup to simmer once the miso is added. 
  5. Ladle into individual bowls, garnish with the scallions, and serve immediately.

Notes

*If you find that you don’t have the time or inclination to make a traditional dashi broth, you can still make a delicious miso soup by using dashi powder. For every cup of water, use 1/4 teaspoon of the dashi powder. Stir the powder with the water and continue on your way!

Keywords: miso, vegetarian, soup, japanese


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