A cloudy bowl of salty, umami-rich Miso Soup is just what winter ordered. And the homemade version couldn’t be simpler.
Sometimes, you need a simple soup. Not a hearty main soup like Yukgaejang or Budae Jjigae. Something light and mild. Something that can be put together quickly. With Asian pantry ingredients. Something that tastes good anytime of the day or night.
Miso Soup is that soup for me. Comforting. Delicious. Easy. If you can make instant noodles, you can make Homemade Miso Soup.
What is Miso?
Miso is Japanese fermented soybean paste. Miso is salty, savory, and full of umami flavor.
There are different kinds of Miso. My favorite is Shiro Miso. A shorter fermentation period and higher rice content makes Shiro Miso mellow yet savory. It’s a mild basic that keeps forever in the fridge.
Miso is a fermented food so it’s packed with probiotic nutrition. The healthy bacteria in Miso aids the digestive process and contributes to overall gut health. Finally, the rest of the world has caught on to what Asians have known for a long, long time: fermented food is good for you.
To that end, DO NOT BOIL Miso Soup. Boiling miso results in the loss of nutrition and flavor. Miso is a delicate paste, unlike its heartier Korean cousin — Doenjang — which can be boiled vigorously.
Japanese Miso is fermented with rice or other grains, keeping it nice and mellow. Doenjang, on the other hand, is pure soybeans and salt. The flavor is sharp and salty, with a rough, chunky texture. I like to think of Doenjang as the funkier, more potent version of Miso. A souped-up Miso, if you will.
How to Make Homemade Miso Soup:
Traditionally, Miso Soup is made with a homemade dashi stock. To make dashi, you need kombu and bonito flakes. Some people use instant dashi granules. That’s the equivalent to chicken bullion cubes. Or, you can use dashi packs, which is the easier, more modern choice.
Dashi packs are individual-sized servings of dried goodies — kombu, mushroom, shrimp, scallop, anchovy, radish. These ingredients make the base of so many Asian soups. Follow the package instructions to make Dashi and then refrigerate for later on.
(If you’re making this vegan, make sure to find a vegan dashi packet. The ingredients are listed on the back.)
But back in the day, when I first started making Miso Soup, I only used water. And it still tasted good. Honestly? Only the most discerning palate would be able to tell the difference.
So I leave the choice to you. If you like, make homemade dashi stock. If not, use water.
The same goes for the dried seaweed or wakame. Sometimes I’ll add it, sometimes I won’t. Again, the choice is up to you. Either way, the soup will be tasty. Happy cooking, friends!
A cloudy bowl of salty, umami-rich Miso Soup is just what winter ordered. And the homemade version couldn't be simpler.
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp Miso Paste (not the low-sodium kind)
- 1 Tbsp dried seaweed (wakame) (optional)
- 1/2 block firm tofu (diced into 1/2 inch cubes, about 1 cup)
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off the heat and whisk in miso paste.
Add tofu and dried seaweed/wakame, if using. Cover and let the residual heat gently warm the tofu and rehydrate the dried seaweed/wakame, about 5 minutes. If you like, gently reheat soup until steaming. MAKE SURE THE SOUP DOES NOT BOIL!!
Garnish with green onion, if desired. Serve immediately.
Bring 4 cups of cold water to boil. Add 2 dashi packs and simmer (covered) for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 20 more minutes. Remove dashi packs. Refrigerate or use immediately for Miso Soup.