Learn to Make Japanese Miso Soup

If you have been eating at Japanese restaurants, you may have wondered how to duplicate the tasty and healthy Miso Soup you have enjoyed there. Here is the proper way to make it as I learned from a great Japanese cook.

You can now have this delicious hot soup in your home any time you want. You will most likely find that it tastes as good or better than at your favorite restaurant.

First you have to locate the right ingredients and that will require going to the right grocery store. You need to look up where the closest Oriental Grocery or Japanese Grocery is located.

When you visit this establishment, go to the refrigerated section and purchase a small tub of Miso. There should be a selection of different types of Miso paste. If possible try to buy a light or medium colored variety for your first soup. It should cost about five dollars and have about a half pound of Miso paste in it. This will keep you in Miso soup for a while and you will also find that Miso is great for other recipes in the future.

Find fresh Tofu in the refrigerated area also and buy a small tub. I usually buy the firm variety so that it does not crumble while in the soup. A nice thing about making Miso soup is that the entire recipe is really up to your taste and each cook has there own variables of each ingredient.

You also need to find or ask for “Negi”. If that sounds strange, don’t worry, that means scallion or green onion in Japanese. Buy a small bunch of Negi. You also need some “Wakame”. Wakame is the tasty green leaf vegetable that you may have noticed before in Miso soup. It is a special sea vegetable, seaweed, if you will. Wakame can either be bought dried in a small couple oz packet, alternately you can purchase a small plastic package of about a quarter pound of salted fresh Wakame. Now you should find a small package of fresh Shiitake mushrooms.

Finally buy some “Dashi”, this can come in teabags that contain the Dashi. It is a very mild and tasty fish stock flavoring. There usually is a big selection of types so you can ask someone at the grocery store which one they recommend.

If you read my article on making Japanese style rice, you could also pick up the correct rice to make that you can eat with your soup.

So, to make Miso Soup, here is your list of ingredients to buy and a description of each:

  1. Miso Paste — soybean paste
  2. Dashi tea bags — soup stock in teabag form.
  3. Wakame — seaweed, either dried or salted fresh is ok
  4. Negi — scallion
  5. Shiitake — mushroom
  6. Tofu – soybean curd – this is an excellent source of protein, by the way.

Resist the urge to buy anything else right now because it is time to go home and make your first real Miso soup!

When you are home, take out your Wakame and soak it in a bowl of water, you only need a teaspoon of flakes or if you have the salted variety take about a six inch strand. The quantities are to your taste. Completely wash out the salt in the fresh strand of Wakame and then put it in a fresh bowl of water to soak while you are cooking. Sometimes it actually is better to soak salted Wakame for an hour or longer so that it is more tender. I usually keep a soaked supply in my refrigerator and make more every few days. If you are short on time, cut the washed fresh salted Wakame into one inch pieces and boil it in the Dashi you are making as this works nicely to tenderize the Wakame.

Wash a few Shiitake mushrooms with water and discard the tough stems. Slice each mushroom into quarter inch strips. For the soup, the object is to boil a pot of water with a Dashi bag. Figure about a quart per 2 people but this is really something you can do by eye. Take your Shiitake mushrooms and add them to the soup. Boil gently 5 or 10 minutes to cook the mushrooms. Bring down the heat to a gentle simmer and add a couple tablespoons of Miso paste as per your taste. Remember how it tasted at the restaurant, use this as your guide to deciding how much Miso to add. You will have to stir the Miso paste a bit to dissolve it. A good trick to help dissolve the Miso is to put it into a strainer and rub it through into the soup. Taste your soup and make adjustments to the amount Miso as needed. Do not be concerned over ingredient amounts, just taste as you go and make your soup to your own taste.

OK, let the Soup continue to simmer gently and if you are soaking Wakame, drain it and slice it into one inch pieces. Put the Wakame in the soup and let it cook about 5 minutes.

Take about half the tub of Tofu and cut it into cubes. I always think it is fun to cube Tofu! Put the Tofu cubes into the soup and let it heat up for a minute or two but do not boil, just let it heat the Tofu.

Next, find your “Negi, do you remember what that is? Clean one stalk and with a very sharp knife and cutting board, finely slice it crosswise and put the Negi (scallion) aside for later.

That’s it! You are done!

Serve the soup into small bowls and put some of the fresh uncooked Negi on the top of the soup right before you eat it.

I am now going to teach you one more useful Japanese word. If you remember it, you can definitely feel good saying it while you are eating something that is particularly wonderful.


You can pronounce it like this: Oyy Shee! 

It means delicious!