Miso soup called Miso-Shiru in Japan is a traditional staple soup made with Japanese dashi broth (the traditional soup stock made with several natural raw materials), miso paste, and various ingredients.
There are countless combinations including types of dashi broth, types of miso paste, ingredients from vegetables to meat, and from seasonal to regional.
I have tried a number of miso soups at Chinese-Korean-Filipino-Japanese combined, kinda Asian fusion restaurants even told us “Japanese restaurants”, none of them were close to authentic miso soup in Japan.
Nothing can beat homemade miso soup.
So, today, let’s dive into traditional JAPANESE MISO SOUP!
- Pick A Type Of Dashi Broth
- Pick A Type Of Miso Paste
- Pick Ingredients Added To Miso Soup
- Pick Tofu
- How To Make Miso Soup
- Japanese Traditional Miso Soup With Dashi Broth
- Instant Miso Soup
- What To Serve With Miso Soup
Pick A Type Of Dashi Broth
You can make Dashi from scratch or you can use instant dashi powder.
Pick your choice of Japanese Dashi broth.
Well, my hubby (an American guy) can’t stand the fishy smell and taste of bonito flakes and Niboshi dried anchovies, (even he doesn’t want to look at them, ) so basically, I am not allowed to make Awase & Iriko Dashi.
If you’re like my hubby, I recommend using konbu dashi, and vegetable/mushroom dashi.
The recipe to make Konbu dashi,
If you are going to use instant dashi powder, read this post. There is a guide if you prefer to use one with no additives.
Pick A Type Of Miso Paste
Miso paste is a fermented soybean paste used in Asian cuisines such as Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cooking.
There are many different types of miso paste when you count all kinds of miso paste in those countries, but, in Japan, there are mainly 4 kinds of miso paste commonly used.
- Red miso- Strong, rich, brown miso paste
- Awase (Yellow/ mix) miso- Moderate miso paste
- White miso- Sweet, mild, white miso paste
- Dashi Miso- Miso contains Umami, dashi ingredients
Roughly speaking, if you like tangy miso flavor, go for red miso. If you like sweet mild miso flavor, go for white. Can’t choose one? Go for Awase miso!
Dashi miso is really handy miso paste packed with Umami ingredients without dashi broth, especially to make Miso soup.
Pick Ingredients Added To Miso Soup
Typically, tofu, dried wakame seaweed, and leeks are commonly picked up as ingredients for daily miso soup.
Also, seasonal vegetables and mushrooms are added to the miso soup to enjoy the season.
My favorite ingredients are tofu, leeks, eggplant, Japanese Kabocha squash, Japanese sweet potatoes for red miso soup, and potato and onions for white miso soup!
Typical Japanese Miso Soup Ingredients
- Tofu (Silky/ Firm)
- Fried Tofu
- Dried Wakame seaweed
- Daikon radish
- Green beans/ peas
- Bean sprout
Unique Miso Soup Ingredients
- Radish leaves
- Celery leaves
- Kabocha squash
- Japanese sweet potatoes
First of all, tofu that you can get in regular grocery stores in the US is a little different from tofu in Japan.
Tofu sold here (such as Nasoya, 365, Simple truth, Trader joe’s, …) has a stronger flavor and is firmer than Japanese tofu.
Japanese tofu that you can get here is probably House foods and Morinaga, or one in Asian grocery stores.
Yet, those “firm” tofu is like the ones you can get in grocery stores.
Often, you see the recipe tells you to add tofu at last and avoid over-cooked.
It is just to keep the sensitive tofu flavor and to avoid air pockets that we call “su” in Japanese.
What I want to say here is,
personally, you really don’t need to be so picky about not overcooking Tofu since tofu is sold here, especially, the kinds of “soft”, “firm”, and “extra firm”. (moreover, some of them has already air pockets. )
Indeed, Korean tofu is made for stewing!
Besides, I add those kinds of tofu before adding Miso paste because I like hot tofu.
If you pick silk tofu, it’s better to be added at last.
Authentic Japanese Tofu you can get in your country. Made with ocean minerals called Nigari, which is the main component of Tofu.
Perfect for authentic traditional Japanese miso soup.
Ridiculously smooth tofu, add pieces at last, and speaking of this one, avoid overboiling.
How To Make Miso Soup
- Make Dashi
- Prepare ingredients
- Cook root vegetables/meat and dashi broth before the broth boil.
- Cook vegetables/mushrooms after the broth boil.
- Add miso paste.
- Add Tofu*.
Cook Thicker And Harder Vegetables First
Cook thicker and harder vegetables first, since they take longer.
Harder and thicker (cuts) vegetables like root veggies such as carrots, onions, and potatoes should be added first before the dashi broth boil.
Also, meat and shellfish are added to the cold (not boiled) dashi broth.
Contrary, the ingredients that require a short cooking time such as Tofu, leaves, and mushrooms can be added after the dashi broth boil and root vegetables are cooked.
Add Miso Paste
Turn off/ lower the heat, and place the miso paste in a ladle/ a skimmer ladle to dissolve.
Use a fork, spoon, chopsticks, whisk, whatever you think it’s handy, and dissolve the miso paste little by little.
It depends on the type of miso, but some miso paste may be hard to dissolve.
Dissolve the miso paste in the way I mentioned above, or dissolve it in another bowl aside.
Miso types such as Sendai miso and Inaka miso that contain koji are OK to dump directly into the soup, but pasty miso such as red miso, yellow miso, and white miso gets hard in the fridge and hard to dissolve in the soup.
There is not much difference in taste, but it is better to add miso just before eating as much as possible because the aroma remains.
Add Tofu At Last?
Read the section “Pick tofu” above.
Japanese Traditional Miso Soup With Dashi Broth
- 2 cups Dashi broth*
- 1.5-2 tbsp Miso
- Your choice of ingredients
- Your choice of garnishes
Make Dashi Broth
- Cut tofu into pieces.
- Hydrate dried wakame seaweed. (Soaking them in water.)
- Chop up garnishes. (green onions, chives, cillantro, basils.)
Make Miso Soup
- Add the hard ingredients such as root vegetables and meat to a saucepan. Add the dashi broth. (Add just water when using Hondashi powder.)
- Bring the dashi broth to a boil. Simmer the broth until the ingredients are cooked.
- Add the ingredients like leaves that can be cooked quickly. (Add Hondashi powder when you want to use Hondashi powder.)
- Place the miso paste in a ladle, and dissolve it while stirring it with a spoon or fork with adding the broth to the ladle. *Never dump the miso paste into the soup without dissolving.
- Turn off the heat before the soup boils. *Avoid overboil the Miso soup.
Instant Miso Soup
If you really can’t find the time to make miso soup or want to get authentic Japanese miso soup instantly, (or you’re craving to have cozy soup after drinking too much before going to bed,), oh well, stock Japanese instant miso soup packets in your pantry. (I do too!)
I like this regular type of instant miso soup because you have a choice of ingredients depending on your mood of the day,
Yet, my favorite lately is freeze-dried miso soup!
Instant SWEET Miso Soup
It’s really not authentic Japanese miso soup, and it’s sweet.
However, you can still make miso soup quickly, and could be nice for kids.