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How to Make Authentic Miso Soup

Updated on August 30, 2011

The Soup Before it Meets Its Best Friend (The Miso!)

A photo of the soup before it meets its soul mate (Don't worry, they get together in the end).
A photo of the soup before it meets its soul mate (Don't worry, they get together in the end).

Where I learned my MIso Soup Tricks

Every summer from a wee age I've been going to Japan to live in my grandparent's house. My Baachan (Japanese word for 'grandmother') is extremely diligent when it comes to making miso soup, and she adheres to the following creed: And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift [making of miso soup]. Here's the general recipe I use, leaving plenty of room for improvisation!

The Soy Sauce

Pretty obvious what this is.  Probably shouldn't have even put up the picture.
Pretty obvious what this is. Probably shouldn't have even put up the picture.

The Dashi

What the box looks like
What the box looks like
What it looks like out of the box (there are also flake varieties)
What it looks like out of the box (there are also flake varieties)

The Very Important Miso

There are both dark and light misos, with this one being the darker version.
There are both dark and light misos, with this one being the darker version.
Oddly enough I used a combination of light and dark misos, so this is a tablespoon of the "light" miso.
Oddly enough I used a combination of light and dark misos, so this is a tablespoon of the "light" miso.

The Ingredients (Serves 2)

If you need to serve more than two, just double the ingredients (obviously), but for now i'm sticking with a low sized batch in case you hate it (which is pretty much impossible):

#1 2.25 Cups of water (You can add more or less depending on how much broth you like, or if it ends up being too salty)

#2 1 Teaspoon of Dashi (Picture to the right of the weird fish flakes. You can alternatively use Niboshi, which are dried fish. If you do, I'd recommend putting in 1 or 2 at the most.)

#3 1 - 1.5 Teaspoon(s) of Soy Sauce (I recommend the good ol' classic Kikkoman)

#4 Optional Splash of Sake (No more than 2 teaspoons)

#5 2 Semi-heaping Tablespoons of Miso (You can obviously adjust this based on taste)

#6 Whatever Else you Want to Put in the Soup, but Here are my Recommendations:

Tofu

Onions

Wakame (A seaweed)

Hakusai (Bok choy or Chinese cabbage)

A Raw Egg (Just drop it in when you put in the rest of the ingredients)

Matchstick Sliced Carrots

Matchstick Sliced Potatoes

etc. (Let's keep it basic)

Now on to the actual cooking of it


The Tofu and the Onions

This makes for a very basic miso soup, but is still very tasty
This makes for a very basic miso soup, but is still very tasty

Don't Forget Your Standard (and cheap) Sake!

Really any type of sake will work, as long as it's clear (there are some weird milky looking ones).
Really any type of sake will work, as long as it's clear (there are some weird milky looking ones).

Dissolving the Miso

You can see the miso in the ladle being dissolved slowly and delectably.
You can see the miso in the ladle being dissolved slowly and delectably.

The Cooking

Step 1: Put in the water, the dashi, the sake, and the soy sauce (Ingredients 1-4) and heat on medium-low until it's warm.

Step 2: Add everything else besides the miso and simply cook until your potatoes/carrots get cooked through. I'd highly recommend adding the potatoes/carrots first, then the onions/wakame/hakusai, and finally the tofu!

Step 3 (The Most Important Step): After everything is cooked to your liking (Should only take about 5-8 minutes or so if you cut the potatoes and carrots thin enough) turn off the heat. Here is where you add the Miso, and be absolutely certain that the water is not near boiling temperature when you add it. Put the Miso on a ladle and dunk it into the soup. Then, using a cooking spoon, slowly dissolve the Miso into the soup by swishing around the ladle and stirring with the spoon. It doesn't have to be perfect, but try to get most of it dissolved.

Step 4 (The 'Real' Most Important Step): If your Miso dissolving didn't go too well and your soup has gotten cold, reheat it (but don't let it boil) and enjoy!

The Finished Product!

It looked and smelled a lot better than my camera gives it credit for.
It looked and smelled a lot better than my camera gives it credit for.

Sum Up

What you've hopefully just made is a delicious and undeniably traditional Japanese dish, that's healthy to boot! This recipe for miso soup is more or less identical to what you'll eat in your average Japanese family's home, and very unlike the weird watery stuff you get at American Japanese restaurants. My last note is this: It's perfectly OK to get addicted to Miso Soup.

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    • mtkomori profile image

      mtkomori 5 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

      Nice to be the first to comment!:)

      This version of miso soup is one I'm not familiar with. It sounds almost like "ton jiru"(miso soup with thin sliced pork) without the pork. I put katsuo bushi instead of niboshi,(though my mother always used niboshi, main reason is that it's hard to get niboshi here in Waterloo) and don't add sake or soy sauce, just plain miso. At any rate, your version appears to be delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh my goodness, I can practically smell it! I've never made miso soup before- I didn't realize it was so easy! Now I've just GOT to get the ingredients and give this a try. I even know exactly what to look for thanks to your photos!

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Mtkomori: That's interesting! I wonder if it would taste like something you're familiar with though. And yeah, if you just added the ingredients for ton jiru and maybe some mirin I think it would basically be ton jiru. I imagine that some of the ingredients on here would be hard to get, so ganbatte (^-^). Thanks for the comment and your variations on such a basic but delicious soup!

      Simone: Yeah, the basic process of making the soup is easy, but I think you have to be a 60+ year old grandmother to really master the subtleties required to make it irresistibly delicious. Hope you're able to find the ingredients and thanks for the comment!

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 5 years ago from Philippines

      O this is my favorite, often see something like this in Korean Drama, great one, I will surely try this

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Congratulation on the hub of the day. I have heard that miso soup is healthy, so I´ll try this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day, I have heard of this soup but had no idea had to make it, I will certainly try it, many thanks for sharing.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Sounds like a good hearty soup, this I like,

      Peter

    • rembrandz profile image

      Remy Francis 5 years ago from Dubai Media City

      Hey Akbok

      Thank s so much for sharing one of the healthiest dishes in the world. I am a fan of Seaweed for its health benefits. I am sure to add Miso soup to my daily diet from now on.

      And ...The Cooking Step 3 was a killer tip! which I never knew. That is a tip I can use from now on for many other of my dishes.

      Congrats on your Hub of the day win too! Much deserving hub!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Congratulations on your Hub of the Day award, and thanks much for sharing your Baachan's recipe with us! I'm looking forward to trying it one day.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Soup sounds good. Congratulations on the Hub of the Day.

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Maria: Yeah Koreans have their own kind of miso soup that I actually have yet to try! Thanks for reading.

      Thelma Alberts: Miso soup is very healthy and I completely give it 99% of the credit for why Japanese people live so long! Hope the recipe yields good results.

      Movie Master: Please do try it. The taste is relatively mild and doesn't have any overly prevalent tastes so I'm sure you'll like it!

      Peter Lumetta: Yeah, Miso soup has the odd quality of being hearty but light at the same time. Totally drinkable in both winter AND summer because of this.

      Rembrandz: Thanks a bunch! Seaweed is indeed very tasty, but I feel like a lot of people are turned off by it :

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      I love miso soup and make it sometimes. I haven't tried putting sake in mine, that might add something new.

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Congratulations on being the Hub of the Day. This recipe looks easy and delicious, the pictures are great too. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 5 years ago

      Congrats! Will make this some time, for sure. I like Miso soup anyway, but homemade will definitely be better. Thanks!

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen Szklany Gault 5 years ago from New England

      Yum. I'd like to try this. I'm bookmarking it.

      Loved your light, almost humorous tone throughout this very informative hub. Your attention to detail about where to find all of the ingredients gives your readers confidence in trying to make this soup ourselves. Can't wait to taste it homemade!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      beautifully written and illustrated hub - I want to run right out and try this. Congrats on hub of the day! now I'm hungry :) and am definitely bookmarking to return and try this when I can go get the ingredients.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      I love miso soup and often make it but this looks like the authentic way to do it. I'm going to try to follow your recipe. Now, to the Asian market to get some dashi. Congrats!

    • PoliCommandments profile image

      PoliCommandments 5 years ago from DeKalb, IL

      This sounds exciting to try. Do you know of any vegetarian substitutes that could stand in for the fish flakes? This looks like quite a dish.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Congrats on your Hub Of The Day! Looks and smells and I bet it tastes yummy also! :))

    • stampinwithfab profile image

      Fabrizio Martellucci 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thank you I always bought the all in one sachet variety but always felt something was missing. I also bought the pan to make Yako Taki (octopus in batter balls) but need a good recipe for that.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Congratulations on being selected for the Hub of the Day!

      Great photos accompany this great recipe! Awesome job-voting up and sharing!

      JSMatthew~

    • happypuppy profile image

      happypuppy 5 years ago

      Great recipe! I will pass this on to my sister. She would love to try out this recipe (she normally buys the miso package to make miso soup). Thanks for sharing and congrats on the win!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      I am familiar with cooking Chinese cuisine but not Japanese yet I prefer Japanese (don't tell that to my former boss Swee Chua). Tell me, what is miso?

    • Jagodka profile image

      Jagodka 5 years ago

      If you use Dashi then does that mean the dish is vegetarian? It sounds delicious and the article is so well-written!

    • Ruthcurley profile image

      Ruthcurley 5 years ago from Bozrah, CT

      I agree, makes me want to go make some Misoshiru right away! Though i also never put soy sauce or saki in mine. I love it with the little clams in the shell or wakame too. Red miso is good with the stronger seafood flavors. Natsukashi! Thanks for the great HUB.

    • foxtrinity profile image

      foxtrinity 5 years ago from PA

      This looks really good.

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 5 years ago

      Miso is one of the tastest, healthiest soups one can make. I usually make it when I have a cold or upset stomach, fills the bill everytime. I love Miso done the authentic way, absolutely delicious.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Wow, you made this look easy! I should try this after I have bought all the ingredients. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Akbok! I hope I can do this right.:)

    • profile image

      lavender3957 5 years ago

      I just made this for my family and they loved it. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more hubs.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 5 years ago from Winnipeg

      This looks great, definitely something to try, Thanks for sharing!

    • serenityh profile image

      serenityh 5 years ago from Morgantown, WV

      Great hub! Where did you get your ingredients for the miso soup?

    • KMattox profile image

      KMattox 5 years ago from USA

      Sounds like a great Miso. Thank you for sharing. Instead of te fish flakes I'll use dried msuhrooms. :) I voted up and useful

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      PamelaNRed: Miso soup deserves to be loved so I`m glad. The sake is completely optional, but I find that adding sake to things is never a bad idea :).

      applecsmith: Thanks for reading!

      Bluebird: By all means try it, and I completely relate to your partiality towards homemade foods.

      Seafarer Mama: Thanks for the amazing comment! Quite frankly I`m honored, and thank you for reading.

      Christin S: Thanks! I wish I had more pictures of completed miso soups that showcase some of the variety of ingredients that can go in the soup. Hope you like it and good luck in finding the possibly elusive ingredients.

      anglnwu: I hope the Asian market has all of the stuff necessary to make the soup or I`ll have made a Hub in vain. Thanks for reading!

      Policommandments: I`ve never had the vegetarian version, but I do know that some people use Konbu dashi instead of fish dashi. Konbu is just a type of seaweed, so that should be 100% vegetarian friendly. You can buy it in bottles already made, or you can look for a recipe online and try to make it yourself from the seaweed leaves. Sorry I don`t have more info about it for you:

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Sunshine625: Thanks a bunch, and I can stand by and guarantee those claims!

      stampinwithfab: Yeah the miso soup mixes that are in anyway pre-made never really seem to hit the spot for me. Tako yaki is delicious, and I commend your bravery in buying a maker. Unfortunately I`ve never made it, so I don`t have any recipes with repute that I can recommend.

      J.S.Matthew: Thank you!

      happypuppy: Yeah if she can actually get around to making the soup I can guarantee she`ll like it more than the instant kind. It might even bring her to tears :D.

      Cardisa: This may be a biased opinion but I too prefer Japanese cuisine! Miso in a nutshell is soybeans that are steamed, salted, yeasted, and then left to ferment until it becomes a paste that has a chunky peanut butter like consistency. There`s plenty of different kinds though, but what I described is probably the most commonly used.

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Jagodka: When people say Dashi they are more often than not referring to a fish based product, so unless you`re a pescatarian then it`s probably off limits. There is Miso shiru out there that uses Konbu (a type of seaweed) dashi that is vegetarian, though I don`t have a reliable recipe for that.

      RuthCurley: Thanks for the comment and I`m glad that you`ve already found the blessing that is Miso shiru in your life. The variety and tinkering that miso soup allows makes it perfect for the culinary mad scientist, so it`s good that you posted a lot of variations on the soup to prove this point.

      foxtrinity: Thanks!

      saddlerider1: I`m always glad to see another faithful acolyte of miso soup. Thanks for the comment and thank you even more for backing up one of my favorite soups.

      Cheerfulnuts: It really is surprisingly easy, with the hardest part being getting the right ingredients (especially if you aren`t in Japan). The key is to not give up if you don`t like your first batch, because miso soup really is capable of many tastes and alterations.

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Lavender3957: I couldn`t be happier. Something that tastes so good and is healthy to boot should have its consumption required by law!

      Carcro: Thanks for stopping by.

      Serenityh: Well it was quite easy for me since I`m currently living in Japan, but when I`m in the states I find everything I need at my local Asian market. If you don`t have one of those then I wish you the best of luck in what would be a difficult but very rewarding quest!

      Kmattox: Yeah, although I recommended Konbu dashi as a vegetarian substitute I did find mushroom dashi being used when I did a quick search. I`ve never had it (fish dashi is just too darn popular), but miso soup is so good it`s practically impossible to mess up. Thanks a bunch!

    • VENZKHVAM profile image

      VENZKHVAM 5 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

      soups are really a treat for a healthy human body and existence. I still remember those tasty different soups i used to drank after a two hours exercise in the park and while coming out.

      in the pretext your miso soup seems to be reverberating in ears to attempt it urgently i will try out good.

    • profile image

      feelhungry 5 years ago

      This is a really simple and good Miso Soup recipe. I have cooked an almost similar variation as well. :-) Thumb up and Useful. :-)

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I love Miso soup and am so glad you shared the recipe. Voted up, interesting, useful, and awesome!

    • BusinessTime profile image

      Sarah Kolb-Williams 5 years ago from Twin Cities

      Love this -- I'm excited to try it out! Thanks!

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Venzkhvam: Thanks for the spiritual comment!

      Feelhungry: Yeah, simple and tasty can't be beat. Also, not to make a point moot, but I love this soup because of its variations. There's nothing like visiting a friend's house and seeing what their family's miso soup is all about.

      Sholland10: Appreciate the comment! And quite frankly it's almost impossible not to love miso soup :)

      Businesstime: Thank you for reading my humble little hub.

    • profile image

      FeathersOfArtemis 5 years ago

      I am totally going to try this! I miss REAL miso soup...not that instant crud they call miso soup. haha. Have to say though, I think I am going to leave the little fishies out of mine. :-P

    • MzPolished1 profile image

      MzPolished1 5 years ago from California

      I like this recipe! I will definitely try it! :)

    • joriechew profile image

      joriechew 5 years ago

      I love misoshiru. Enjoyed you sense of humor. Cooking is fun. Cheer.

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      FeathersofArtemis: Yeah, the instant stuff is OK, but once you have the authentic soup things can never be the same. I too prefer using the fish flakes over the whole fish with their guilt imparting eyes and heads on them.

      MzPolished1: Thank you and I hope it turns out tasty!

      Joriechew: I think my first use of the word 'love' was directed towards misoshiru when I was growing up as a babe in Japan. Thanks and cheers!

    • Susan Ng profile image

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Is it really this easy to make miso soup, Akbok? :O I love miso soup but have always thought that it was painstaking to make. Like in "Himono Onna", this JDorama I watched... if I remember correctly, the girl started making the miso soup late at night to get it ready for breakfast. :O

    • Akbok profile image
      Author

      Akbok 5 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Susan Ng: Well to make it like a true master it takes years of tinkering, but this is a pretty good foundation. The method you saw is probably the style that uses the actual whole dried fish, as my baachan also uses those. She lets them soak for the entire night to draw out the flavor. It's cool and all, but then you have to deal with weird fish parts floating around in your soup.

    • Susan Ng profile image

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Oh, I see. Yes, the girl was doing something to some fish, then she fell asleep and a cat carried the fish away. Hehe. Thanks, Akbok. :)

    • ryokowaren profile image

      ryokowaren 5 years ago from USA

      Mmmmm, I love Miso soup. :-)

    • profile image

      cheap essay writing service 5 years ago

      I love Miso soup and am so glad and thankful shared the recipe., interesting, and so awsumm useful, and awesome!

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