Miso soup is one of those soups that is perfect for almost any day and ranks up there as near ideal comfort food. I enjoy it either as a starter to a Japanese meal, when I’m feeling down with a cold or flu, or even just because. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. A basic miso soup begins with just a few ingredients, konbu (dried black kelp), bonito fish flakes and miso. The konbu and bonito fish flakes are combined to make a dashi, or fish stock. To that, miso paste is added. From there, you can add scallions, tofu, wakame, shiitake or enoki mushrooms, soba or udon noodles, a soft boiled egg, or even shrimp. You can also spice it up with crushed red pepper flakes or better yet, shichimi togarashi (seven-flavor chili pepper).
If you’re not planning on making this soup or other Japanese dishes often then you can buy powdered dashi from most Asian supermarkets. However, I’d recommend making everything from scratch, as IMHO it tastes much better! I should note that the dashi fish stock can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for a month, so making extra is well worth the small effort it takes. Much like chicken or beef stock here in the U.S., dashi fish stock forms the base for many Japanese dishes. As for the miso paste, there are several different types, the most common (in the U.S.) being white, yellow or red miso. Basically, the darker the color, the bolder, or stronger, the flavor. Personally, I like to use red miso for making soups, and use yellow or white for making marinades (i.e. miso marinated salmon) and dressings (i.e. miso ginger vinaigrette). But that, is for another post 🙂
You can watch it being made on my new YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/KT-afKxlUDU
Japanese Miso Soup
Makes 4 cups
- 4 cups water
- 2 ea. 2×4-inch piece of konbu (dried black kelp)
- 1 cup loosely packed bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- 4 Tbsp. white or red miso paste
- 8 ounces soft or medium tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tsp. dried wakame (seaweed)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- To make the dashi fish stock, add 4 cups of cold water and the konbu to a medium saucepan. Let sit for 15 minutes before turning stove on and bringing to a low simmer. Just before boiling, remove the konbu. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, uncovered.
- Add the bonito flakes and bring again to a simmer. Turn off heat and let the dashi sit for about 10 minutes or until the fish flakes sink to the bottom of the saucepan. Meanwhile, soak the dried wakame for 10 minutes in water to rehydrate, then drain well.
- Strain the dashi into a bowl with a sieve and cheesecloth. Return the dashi fish stock to the stove and bring to a quick boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to medium low and while simmering, press one tablespoon of miso paste at a time through a sieve into the soup. Repeat with the other tablespoons of miso paste. Add the cubed tofu and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- In each soup bowl put some wakame, ladle in the miso soup, and top with the finely chopped green onions.