Simple Miso Soup

This post may be uninteresting to you, especially since Japanese food in America has been wildly popular for the past few years. It’s a simple recipe for Miso Soup. And I am so excited about it!

I guess I missed the boat on this one—when all of my friend’s were lapping up miso soup in college, when I skimmed over blog posts and recipes of it uninspired, when I chose the gyoza over it in restaurants. I never cared to even try miso soup until one day last spring, when Jim and I were in New York for a play and (more importantly) a fancy dinner. We chose a restaurant, well-received on Zagat, whose name has vanished from my memory. Every item on the menu, save for the miso soup Jim ordered, was either unremarkable or inedible. I finally gave in and tried Jim’s soup out of hungry desperation. It was delicious! I loved the salty, briny flavor of the dashi and went wild for the crunchy green onions. I mostly stayed away from the tofu, thinking that I was allergic to it after I had a reaction to a soy-gingerbread latte a few months prior.

Since then, I’ve learned that I’m not allergic to tofu and also that I just don’t care for it. So, I’ve been hunting for a comprable miso soup in sushi places and gourmet shops since last spring, hoping beyond hope to find one that focuses as much on the other ingredients as it does on the tofu and not having to break the bank for it. I was unlucky to the point of being turned off by miso soup altogether—almost to the point of forgetting about it, until my soup obsession started this winter. I don’t know why I never made miso soup myself before but I should really give myself a kick in the ass. It’s so wonderfully easy—and I can make it to my tastes! Don’t like tofu? Screw the tofu!

So, that’s why I’m so excited about this simple miso soup. I see it as a jumping off point for me—today’s post is the classic miso, tofu and all, but next week I’ll try something different. Eventually I’m sure I’ll come up with my ultimate miso soup. The combination of the sea-laced kombu dashi with salty red miso is the broth-soup jump-off point of my dreams (wow, I really am turning into a soup-nut.) And to top it all off, miso soup is healthy and beneficial to my lazy winter immune system—maybe one of the reasons I’m already feeling better!

Miso Soup

Don’t let the ingredient list scare you off—they were all stocked in my supermarket without my knowing. I asked the clerk, thinking it was hopeless, if he had kombu and bonito flakes and the wonderful man said of course! and then politely gave me a lesson on how to make the best miso soup. Also, the ingredients store easily in the pantry—a plus in my book.

For the dashi:

  • 1 strip kombu, scored a bit with the tip of your knife
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup bonito flakes (dried tuna)

For the miso soup:

  • Prepared dashi
  • 1/3 cup red miso (you can use white or yellow if you think red is too strong)
  • 2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced

To make the dashi: Combine kombu strip and water. Bring to a simmer but do not let boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove kombu with tongs and discard (or save for another use.) Add bonito flakes and simmer for a few more minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve.

To make soup: Place dashi back on stove, reserving about a cup in a heatproof bowl. Whisk miso into the cup, combining well. Pour combined miso back into the dashi and stir. Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add green onions, turn off heat and let it sit for another minute. Serve.


QUESTION! QUESTION!  Do you have any interesting (or simple) miso soup recipes or tips?? I’d love to hear them!

9 thoughts on “Simple Miso Soup”

  1. I was totally turned of to tofu by someone who once gave me a tofu cookie. A cookie that tasted like cold pork chop. Never again will I have tofu, so … thanks for posting this interesting recipe! The pics are, as always, delightful. 🙂

  2. you can put the kombu and bonito in at the same time, and to save yourself from having to strain out the bonito flakes, invest in some dashi or tea bags (for holding loose tea ) then you can just fish it out. or just make a small pounch with doubled over cheese cloth. and you can make a nice kombu relish with the used kombu by cutting it up into small pieces with some enoki mushrooms (optional), simmering with some water, vinegar, mirin and soy sauce (for 15mins, when the the water’s mostly evaportated).

  3. oh robin, I so needed this post!! I looooove miso soup, but had always kind of avoided making my own, thinking it wouldn’t be the same. but this is so easy!

    oh, and screw the tofu? heck yeah!

  4. i think people who have ruled out tofu may not have tried different types (there is a wide range of textures), and many have not tasted asian brands.
    and if you live near a really large chinatown, see if they have fresh tofu custard, usually sold on the streets out of a large stock pot. you drizzle brown sugar syrup on top and it’s amazingly light, smooth, sweet and slightly creamy.

  5. Sigh, I used to love miso soup, but now I think I’ve developed an intolerance to soy and can’t eat it anymore… I’ll have to live vicariously through this photo :).

  6. I’ve just discovered your blog through your other wonderful creation, FP Daily (which I’m sure has put you up there in the Most Appreciated Food Blogger category… THANK YOU! and GREAT JOB! :). I have since spent the last good hour drooling through your past entries! And though belated, I just wanted to pipe in some suggestions for miso soup. At home, we Japanese put almost anything in our miso soups… I’ve seen all sorts of veggies in there (personally, I especially love root veggies, like potatoes (sweet and non), radishes, carrots, burdock…, but I also use okra, onions, leeks, spinach, snap peas, mushrooms, cabbage… anything, really– just wash, cut in chunks, slices, or bits, and toss into broth!)… or toss in some pork with the veggies for a heartier meal. I also often cook leftover (cooked) rice in the soup to make a quick and easy risotto-like dish. Enjoy! 😀

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