Miso soup originates from Japan. It’s a delicious savoury soup, rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be made as quickly as a cup of tea, or in under 2 hours – if you desire the ultimate, authentic taste.
In its simplest form miso consists of two ingredients: dashi and miso paste.
Dashi a stock used in Japanese cookery. It is normally made from kombu (a type of seaweed), mushrooms (shitake are used most frequently) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented tuna) but it can made from just one or two of these ingredients.
Miso paste is traditionally made from soybeans, salt and koji. There are thousands of different types of miso in Japan, but you’ll normally only find one or two in the UK.
Miso paste (note: the words miso and miso paste are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing) can be bought from most supermarkets. If you’d like to try a greater range of misos you can visit Japan – or buy Umami Chef koji and use it to make your own miso! It’s really easy – you just mix cooked beans with salt and koji and then leave it to mature for as little as 10 days. You can make miso from any bean and experiment with different flavours. This means that you can enjoy miso, even if you’re avoiding soy beans, as homemade miso can be made with fava beans, cannellini beans, or even lentils! Find out more about making miso on my miso page.
Any miso can be used to make a soup – a sweet white miso (like my 10-day miso) makes a light creamy drink; whilst a dark, rich miso makes a more savory soup, which can be easily turned into a meal by the addition of vegetables, tofu and noodles.
The easiest way to make miso soup
You can make miso soup very quickly by using a shop bought stock – any stock will produce a lovely, warming drink.
Simply make up the stock using the directions on the packet, then stir a heaped teaspoon of miso paste into each mug.
For a more authentic taste, use instant dashi stocks from Japan. These can be bought in many Asian supermarkets or online (just search for “dashi stock”). Occasionally larger supermarkets also have dashi stock, but these can be expensive.
Note: Most dashi stocks contain fish, but the green one on the right is suitable for vegans.
Making Dashi From Scratch
The ultimate, authentic dashi is made from scratch.
- Add 20g of kombu to 1 litre warm water and leave to soak. For the perfect dashi the temperature should be held just below 60C for 40 minutes (bitter notes can form if the temperature rises above 60’c).
- Remove the kombu and add 40g dried, chopped shitake mushrooms. Simmer gently for an hour.
- Remove the mushrooms, then gently stir in 10g of katsuobushi flakes.
- Leave for a couple of minutes then strain through a sieve.
Your dashi is now ready to use!
The Ultimate Miso Soup
The best miso soup is made by selecting about 40g of the freshest vegetables and lightly cooking them in 2 cups of dashi. Popular choices for vegetables in Japan include daikon radish, leeks, seaweed and cabbage, but anything can be used. A few cubes of tofu can also be added.
Once the vegetables are tender, stir in about 1 tablespoon of miso then transfer directly to a bowl. Enjoy!