Miso Soup Delivers Simple, Warm Satisfaction in the Blink of an Eye | Food

There are many ways to use miso in everyday cooking.

Baker and blogger Aran Goyoaga adds miso to the cake batter in his latest cookbook, “Cinnamon and Vanilla Bakes Simple”. In “Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter” cookbook author Nigel Slater uses miso as a crispy coating for sautéed Brussels sprouts. In their book “Ideas in Food”, chefs Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa increase the pasta dough with miso. Fermented dough, an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine, has been used as a cheese tip and quick marinade, in dressings and sauces, embers and roasts.

Indeed, it’s “a seasoning powerhouse with tons of range,” as my colleague Aaron Hutcherson wrote in his recent miso guide.

But to appreciate miso in perhaps its purest expression, consider miso soup.

Sipped in a small bowl, misoshiru is a staple in many Japanese dishes.

Basically, it consists of miso mixed in a hot broth, at the rate of 1 tablespoon of miso for 1 cup of broth. Because the salinity of miso can vary widely, Sokono Sakai, instructor and author of “Japanese Home Cooking,” notes that cooks should adjust the ratio to their tastes.

Broth is traditionally dashi, a simple broth, and the simplest dashi is made by simmering a strip of kombu, a type of kelp, in water. There are of course many types of dashi; it can be made from bones, trimmings from vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, or fermented fish. The recipe below is for a common dashi made from kombu and bonito flakes, shavings from a block of cooked, smoked, dried and pressed bonito, or bonito. Together, kombu and bonito add richness and oceanic minerality to the clear broth.

Once the dashi is ready, other ingredients can be added, either precooked or to cook in the broth: small prawns, cubes of silky tofu, clams, mushrooms, green vegetables, cabbage, squash, potatoes or other vegetables. roots, eggs, noodles, citrus zest, shallots.

Keep seasonality and simplicity in mind when deciding what to add to your miso soup. It’s meant to “whet your appetite, and that first sip will bring you the taste of the season,” writes Sakai.

A summer miso soup may contain tomatoes and corn; in winter, dried mushrooms and root vegetables can be added.

The last step is the most important: with the dashi just hot – but never boiling – miso is added. Instantly, the broth becomes cloudy and creamy. But delicious secrets lie beneath its murky surface. In the simplest miso soup, the miso hazelnut umami shines. In variations with many additions, miso provides a well-lit stage, a daring backdrop for all that the season can bring good.

Miso soup

Dashi recipe adapted from chef Koji Terano. Miso soup recipe adapted from a recipe by writer Renee Schettler.

Active time: 15 minutes | Total duration: 35 minutes

4 servings (about 4 cups)

This recipe is for a very basic miso soup. Here are ways to tailor it to your taste, using what you have on hand. The only essential ingredient here is miso.

Many varieties of comforting miso soup are served in Japan, where it is often a part of the breakfast. We’ve added minced green onions to this version, but you can top the soup with toasted sesame seeds, watercress, snow peas or blanched sugar, cubed tofu, seaweed or just about anything. that you would like in the soup.

As a rule of thumb, for each cup of liquid, add no more than a tablespoon of miso. For a tastier effect, use a darker miso. For a milder flavor, add a touch of soy, sake or mirin. To mix the miso into a hot liquid, place the miso in a container and pour into about 1 cup of the liquid, stirring or whisking until well blended. Slowly return the mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Do not subject miso to heat above a simple boil if you want to keep its enzymatic activity alive.

Want to make dashi vegan or just skip fish? Omit the bonito flakes.

Can’t find a kombu? You can order it online – or use any type of store-bought or homemade broth as the base for your miso soup.

Miso is a must have, but if you’re salt sensitive, start with half the amount and then taste the soup, adding more as needed.

To make a meal, add: cooked noodles or rice; shredded cooked chicken, meat or fish; whole crustaceans; hardy greens, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower finely sliced ​​or chopped; tofu cubes; sliced ​​mushrooms; a few scrambled eggs, which will poach in the hot broth.

Where to Buy: Store-bought bonito flakes and dashi can be found in Asian markets or online. Kombu, miso, and mirin can be found in Asian markets or in well-stocked supermarkets.


For the dashi

4 cups of water

1 piece of kombu (3 x 4 inches)

1 cup of bonito flakes

For the miso soup

4 cups of dashi (from the recipe above)

3 to 4 tablespoons of miso (preferably 2 tablespoons aka [red] miso and 2 tablespoons of shiro [white] miso)

1 1/2 tablespoons mirin, cooking sake or soy sauce (optional)

2 green onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced ​​(optional)


Prepare the dashi: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and kombu to almost but not quite a boil. Remove from the heat and, using tongs, remove and discard the kombu. Add the bonito flakes and set aside, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. The bonito should sink to the bottom of the pot. Filter, several times if necessary, until the broth is clear. Dashi tastes better when used immediately; you can refrigerate it until needed, but its flavor will start to wear off after 1 day.

Prepare the miso soup: In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the dashi until hot but do not let it boil. Remove from fire.

In a medium bowl, whisk the miso with about 1/2 cup of the hot dashi until the miso is incorporated into the liquid. Return this mixture to the pot and mix. Season to taste with mirin, sake or soy sauce, if desired. Add the green onions, if using, and serve. (The miso makes the soup cloudy after a few moments. That’s okay.)

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