Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup based on dashi stock mixed with softened miso paste.
Good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, miso soup is a comfort food.
Dashi is essential for Japanese cooking. It is usually a clear, non-oily fish stock used for soups, simmered dishes, salad dressings, and marinades. Dashi provides the subtle umami that is the foundation of Japanese cuisine. Dashi can be made with kelp (kombu), dried bonito (katsuobushi), dried baby sardines (niboshi), dried shiitake mushrooms, or a combination of two or three of these ingredients.
Links to dashi recipes: * katsubushi dashi * niboshi dashi * vegetarian dashi *
iso is a paste of fermented soybeans and grains—salty-tangy, full of umami, and the yeast culture is full of friendly microflora (beneficial bacteria) to help you digest and assimilate nutrients.
Depending on which grains and other ingredients are fermented along with the soybeans, the miso paste will develop a different taste and the texture. The length of time the paste is allowed to ferment (from 1 month to 3 years) affects its color and how salty it will taste.
|Genmai – soybeans and brown rice
Hatcho – soybeans and sea salt
Kome – soybeans and white rice
Mugi – soybeans and barley
Natto – soybeans and ginger
|White – very light flavor. Best for light cooking and summer soups.
Yellow – a bit saltier and stronger than White. A good intensity for moderate soups and sauces.
Red – saltier and stronger in flavor than Yellow. Favored for winter soups.
Dark Brown or Black – very strong flavor and smell. Best for rich cooking, such as with meat or stews.
|Blending different types of miso can make a concoction
that is more interesting than either one alone.
Mr. Tess often cooks, but rarely cooks Japanese foods. We, neither of us, were feeling great. I suggested miso soup with salmon (which was in the freezer—neither of us wanting to go to the store). So I gave him some instructions and had a nap while he produced a lovely meal.
Dice a small potato or two, and cook until tender in the broth. Soak some wakame in tepid water. Drain and add just before serving. Broil the salmon until just cooked. Slice and reserve until just before serving. Heat the stock, and dissolve the miso in a cup with a little of the hot liquid. Don’t boil again, just add and heat the ingredients.
Here is a lovely article featuring Hiroko Shimbo making miso soup. I’m sure you will find it most charming and inspiring.
Many ingredients can be added to miso soup depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preferences.
Swiss chard, tofu, chicken, seafood of all kinds, sliced pork, udon, toban jiang, cabbage, scallions, carrots, mushrooms, sesame oil, sweet potato, daikon, corn, soy milk, ginger, eggplant…