Basic Miso Soup is fundamental in Japanese cuisine. It exists on almost every Japanese Restaurant menu and is a simple dish worth learning.
Strictly speaking, a miso soup could be any soup given an umami boost with the addition of the Japanese fermented soy-bean paste known as ‘Miso’ but generally, the soup base is the rich sea-stock called Dashi, and typically only two or three other ingredients are included. The version pictured above simply includes a little Tofu, along with Scallions and Wakame seaweed.
Ingredient Notes for a Basic Miso Soup
The soup base, or stock, is usually a Basic Dashi. In some cases, and in many Japanese homes, a bouillon powder, or ‘Instant Dashi’, may be used, but if you wish to prepare a Basic Miso Soup properly from scratch, you may follow the procedure set down in my Introduction to Dashi. For a Vegan, or vegetarian version, you can omit the use of Katsuobushi, and instead prepare a simple Kombu Dashi.
Miso comes in a variety of shades of color, with corresponding differences in taste, as well as saltiness. The lightest, sometimes referred to as ‘White Miso’, or ‘Shiro Miso’ is typically preferred for Miso Soup, and that is what is used here. The basic rule of thumb for a miso soup is about 3 tablespoons for every 4 cups of stock. I am just making enough for two people here and you may wish to double the recipe.
The Wakame Seaweed called for below can be fairly easily purchased in Asian grocery stores and comes packaged in dried strands which are easily reconstituted with just a few minutes soaking in water. If you prefer, you could easily replace this with julienne shreds of Spinach, or other leafy greens (although tougher ones should be blanched first).
How to make a Basic Miso Soup
Add the Dashi to a pot along with the white parts of the scallion and the tofu cubes. Bring it to a gentle simmer but do not allow it to boil as this will diminish the more delicate flavors of the dashi.
Put the miso in a small bowl and then scoop a small ladle full of the dashi over it and mix well before adding the contents back into the main pot. It is advisable to use this method as it is easier to mix the miso into the liquid this way. Again, do not allow the contents of the pot to boil.
Add the Wakame and allow everything to heat through gently. Finally, transfer to individual soup bowls and garnish with the green parts of the scallion.
Your Recipe Card for a Basic Miso Soup:
Basic Miso Soup for two
- 2 generous cups of Dashi
- 1 ½ tbsp. Miso
- ¼ – ½ cup reconstituted Wakame seaweed
- 12 small cubes of Tofu
- 1 small Scallion sliced into thin rings
- Put the Dashi into a pot, add the Tofu and the white part of the Scallion, and allow the pot to come to a gentle simmer.
- Put the Miso into a small bowl, add a quarter cup or so of the simmering dashi from the pot and stir until smooth, then pour the contents of the bowl into the pot while stirring.
- Add the Wakame seaweed, and continue to simmer gently until all his heated through.
- Transfer the soup to individual serving bowls and garnish with the green parts of the scallion.
- Serve immediately.