Many of you should have probably tried miso soup at least one if you have visited Japanese restaurants. The Japanese people consider miso soup as a staple in their lifestyle. The soup is commonly served as a small portion side dish to complement a meal. In Japan, people begin their day with a bowl of miso soup, believed to stimulate digestion and energise the body.
Tips on Making Miso Soup
1. Choose the right miso paste
Miso paste gives miso soup most of its flavor. The paste is made from fermented soy beans. It is a staple seasoning in Japanese cuisine to season soup, sauce, and other dishes.
There are many types of miso, depending on how long it’s aged, the type of grain, and the proportions of the ingredients, the flavor can be sweet or salty, mild or pungent. Start just by looking at the color of the miso, which is a good indicator of how strong it will be.
White miso (shiro, in Japanese) is mild and slightly sweet. In general, white miso has less salt and more koji (mold). That speeds up fermentation, so this type of miso is aged less for a sweet, lightly fermented flavor. Meanwhile, red miso has deeper flavor. It is made with more salt, which allows for longer fermentation times which results in development of complex, umami-rich flavor with a bit of funk.
You can actually use any kind of miso in soup, and which one you choose is up to a matter of taste. However, I recommend to use white miso since it’s the most mild kind of miso. If you’re buying only one miso to use in a bunch of recipes, white miso is the best choice.
2. Make dashi
The base soup stock itself is made from miso paste as well as a traditional Japanese fish stock called dashi. Dashi is usually made of dried kelp and shavings of dried smoked bonito (katsuoboshi) or dried shiitake mushrooms. You can alternatively use the kelp and dried shiitake dashi for vegetarian soup stock. You can also just use water. However, I think dashi is what makes the soup flavorful and packed with umami.
If you find making dashi is inconvenience, you can use instant dashi powder. Just dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of the granules in each cup of hot water or based on your recipe requirement.
3. Custom the ingredients
Actually the ingredients vary from region to region and even from family to family. You can add whatever you like for added textures and flavors. The most common ingredients in miso soup are usually tofu and wakame seaweeds with sliced scallions on top.
Add hard vegetables in dashi before you boil it. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer until they become tender. Meanwhile, add soft vegetables like leafy greens and mushrooms after dashi is boiling because they require less cooking time. Add tofu at last so that you do not break down the tofu when mixing everything.
4. Do not boil the miso
Miso is a fermented food, meaning it contains live active cultures. Therefor, adding miso to boiling water will kill the beneficial bacteria in miso, which alters the flavor and reduces the health benefits of active miso paste. Wait until the soup is off the heat and then stir in miso to taste.
- 4 cups dashi (960 ml)
- 4 tbsp miso
- 1 tbsp wakame seaweed
- 1/2 block firm silken tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 scallion chopped
Hydrate wakame seaweed in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water. Set aside.
Heat dashi in saucepan until boiling. Remove from heat.
Put miso inside a strainer and slowly dissolve the miso into the dashi completely.
Add wakame, tofu, and scallion. Serve immediately.