Classic Miso Soup and Variations

classic miso soup

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made with a stock called dashi to which miso paste is incorporated. To this base many other ingredients can be added. Miso paste can be categorized as red (akamiso), white (shiromiso) or mixed (awase). Miso soup we find is best made using the lighter white miso paste.

The most common dashi stock for miso soup is made using niboshi (dried baby sardines), kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (thin shavings of dried and smoked bonito), or hoshi-shiitake (dried shiitake). Note: Kombu is a good source of glutamic acid, an amino acid responsible for umami the fifth taste.

Many miso soup recipes use kombu in combination with katsuobushi or hoshi-shiitake as a starting dashi stock.

Solid ingre

dients in Japan are chosen depending upon the season and to provide color, texture and flavor. The following recipe is for the basic miso soup.


For the Dashi

4 cups cold water

One 5 -inch square piece of kombu (kelp)

3/4 cup katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

For the Miso Soup (for 2)

3 cups dashi

2 T. white miso (to taste)

2 tsp. cut wakame seaweed

1/4 cup finally diced tofu

2 tsp. diced scallions

1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)


For the Dashi

arefully wipe the kombu with a wet paper towel. Do not wash the kombu. In a saucepan, combine the water and kombu. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Do not let the water boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the kombu. Note: the kombu can be used again to make a weaker stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the bonito flakes, and turn off the heat. Skim off any scum from the surface. After a minute or two the flakes will sink to the bottom. At this point the stock should be strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. The dashi is best used immediately although it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

For Miso Soup

Presoak in water for 5 minutes the cut wakame seaweed. Drain the water. Bring the dashi to a simmer. Add the miso and incorporate making sure all the miso is dissolved. It is best to add the miso through a sieve immersed in the liquid.

Add the wakeme and tofu and simmer for a minute. Note: Do not let the soup with miso boil. Serve the soup and garnish will scallions and sesame oil (image below shown with aji sesame oil).





Miso Soup Variations

Miso Soup with Sesame Oil

miso soup sesame oil

There are so many variations that can be done with miso soup. Add dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, clams, meats and/or assorted vegetables. Use different types of noodles and make a meal out of the soup.

Miso Soup with Wild Striped Bass
miso soup
In this variation we added a piece of seared wild striped bass. The soup was cooked with slabs of turnips and beech mushrooms. The greens from the turnips were also added. We sprinkled some red pepper and chives on top.