Homemade miso soup 味噌汁

Miso soup ­ — photo by Namiko Chen

It’s super easy to make authentic Japanese miso soup at home! As the daily elixir of the Japanese diet, homemade miso soup is not only delicious, it also brings many great health benefits. Learn how to make this nourishing soup at home with my recipe tutorial and cooking video (https://www.justonecookbook.com/homemade-miso-soup).

Many of you have probably tried miso soup at least once if you have visited Japanese restaurants. In the U.S., it is usually served before the main meal, with a salad. However, in Japan, miso soup is always served when steamed rice is served.

I may be biased, but miso soup is probably one of the easiest soups you can make at home! At the end of this post, you should feel pretty confident making yourself a bowl of authentic miso soup at home. And trust me, what you make will taste 10,000 times better than the restaurant or instant variety.

What is Miso Soup? 
Most Japanese meals are served with a bowl of steamed rice and a traditional Japanese soup called miso soup (味噌汁). Depending on the region, season and personal preference, you can find many varieties of miso soup enjoyed in Japan. In addition to the classic tofu and wakame combination, we also use a lot of different ingredients to make the soup. That’s why we can never get bored with it.

Miso soup is simply made of three components: dashi, miso (soybean paste) and your choice of ingredients. We’ll go over how it all works together in detail below:

Part 1: Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock) 
Dashi (だし·出汁) is Japanese stock, and it is a fundamental ingredient in many Japanese dishes. If you’re looking to make authentic Japanese miso soup, you will have to use dashi as the soup broth and not any other types of broth. Miso soup is not miso soup without dashi.

While you may not be familiar with dashi, it is actually the easiest and quickest broth one can make at home. There are quite a few methods to make dashi. Japanese home cooks commonly use awase dashi (made with konbu kelp and dried bonito flakes) and iriko dashi (made with anchovies) for their miso soup. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can use konbu dashi (made with konbu kelp).

I make my homemade dashi because it is much simpler and more straight forward than making chicken or vegetable stock! You can find all the ingredients in Japanese stores and most Asian grocery stores. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qBAcsM31Rg for the video tutorial on how to make dashi from scratch.

I have a detailed post on How to Make Dashi (The Ultimate Guide): https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-make-dashi-jiru. It’s worth reading if you are serious about making Japanese food at home.

Some recipes online use instant dashi powder or granules for miso soup. However, I don’t recommend this option, as most dashi powder brands contain MSG and the flavor and fragrance do not last long.

Pro Tip! Japanese cooking requires dashi in many recipes. You can make a big batch of dashi and store it in the refrigerator for up to three to five days or in the freezer for two weeks and it’s always ready to go. Use dashi for different recipes throughout the week and if you have any leftover at the end of the week, make miso soup to finish up your weekly batch. With dashi on hand, you can make miso soup in under 10 minutes!

Part 2: Miso (Soybean Paste)
Miso (味噌), fermented soybean paste, is made from soybeans, grains (steamed rice or barley), salt, and koji culture (麹, a fermentation starter). There are many different brands and varieties of miso paste in the market. For miso soup, I find yellow miso (known as awase miso) the most versatile. It has a more rounded flavor that goes well with any ingredients.

Each miso paste and brand varies in saltiness and flavor , so adjust the amount of miso according to taste. You can also mix two to three types of miso together for more complex flavors. Otherwise, if you have good quality miso, enjoy its unique characters.

To learn more about miso on my blog, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/miso/. If you are interested in making your own miso at home, read about it at https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-make-miso.

A typical Japanese miso soup bowl holds about 200 ml of liquid. As a general rule, we add one tablespoon (20 g) of miso per one miso soup bowl (200 ml dashi).

he most important tip to remember — NEVER boil miso soup once the miso is added because it loses flavor and aroma.

Part 3: Your Choice of Ingredients
I assume most of you have tried tofu miso soup at Japanese restaurants. Have you tried miso soup with other ingredients? In Japan, because we drink miso soup every day, we switch up the ingredients all the time.

Follow these quick tips when you use different vegetables or seafood for your soup:

Cook ingredients in succession based on their density.

1. Add root vegetables into dashi first before boiling.

2. Let them simmer until they become tender.

3. Add other quick-cooking ingredients.

Add garnishes such as green onions/scallions and mitsuba (Japanese herbs) only right before serving.

Ingredients that are added BEFORE bringing dashi to a boil
Carrot
Clams
Daikon radish
Kabocha squash/pumpkin
Manila clams
Onion
Potato
Turnip
Ingredients that are added AFTER dashi is boiling
Aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch)
Bean sprouts
Cabbage/napa cabbage
Egg
Eggplant
Green onions/scallions
Mushrooms such as enoki, maitake, nameko, shiitake, shimeji, etc
Negi (long green onion/leeks)
Okra
Somen noodles
Spinach
Tofu (silken or medium firm)
Wakame seaweed
Yuba (soybean curd)

Health benefits of homemade miso soup
Japanese people drink miso soup daily as we believe this delicious, healing soup is a gateway to great health. Just like green tea, you can safely say miso soup is the elixir of the Japanese diet. Here are just some of the health benefits of miso soup:

1. Helps maintain a healthy digestive system
With its beneficial probiotics, drinking miso soup helps to improve your overall digestion and absorption of nutrients.

2. Good source of nutrientsMiso is rich in minerals as well as copper, manganese, protein, Vitamin K and zinc. Therefore, drinking a bowl of miso soup a day is like taking the natural supplement for your health.
3. Good for bones
Miso soup provides many bone-building minerals like calcium, magnesium and manganese, which helps to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

4. Improves your heart

The natural chemical compounds in miso, such as Vitamin K2, linoleic acid and saponin, are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol.

To enjoy the amazing health benefits of miso soup, you will want to make your own miso soup. The instant miso soup will not be as good since they tend to contain higher sodium and may include other preservatives. There are some good brands out there, so just be sure to read the label.

Now that you’ve learned how to make miso soup at home, I hope you enjoy this nourishing soup every day!

Other Variations of Miso Soup You May Enjoy:
Homemade Instant Miso Soup
Vegan miso soup (with tofu and wakame seaweed)
Vegetarian miso soup (with easy seasonal vegetables)
Tonjiru (pork and vegetable miso soup)
Clam soup (asari miso soup)

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/ingredient-substitution-for-japanese-cooking.

Miso Soup
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins

It’s super easy to make authentic Japanese miso soup at home! As the daily elixir of the Japanese diet, homemade miso soup is not only delicious, it also brings many great health benefits. Learn how to make this nourishing soup at home with my recipe tutorial and cooking video.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: dashi, miso
Servings: 4
Author: Namiko Chen

Ingredients
For dashi (makes scant four cups)
Four cups water (960 ml)
1/3 oz konbu (dried kelp) (10 g or 4” x 4” or 10 cm x 10 cm)
1/3 oz katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) (10 g or one cup; I used three cups in the video for a strong dashi flavor)

For one bowl of miso soup (Basic)
One cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more) (240 ml)
1 Tbsp miso

Ingredients of your choice (Please read the blog post)
green onion/scallion (finely chopped)

To read the full recipe, visit, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/homemade-miso-soup/.

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