Miso soup is so simple and adaptable, you’ll find dozens of ways to make this a quick, satisfying addition to your recipe rotation. You can make a cup at a time or a big batch to serve the masses. A Japanese staple, miso is traditionally made of fermented soybeans and used to flavor a variety of foods such as soups, sauces, and dressings. It is a rich and salty condiment with a buttery texture. Miso is like wine — there are many varieties and combinations of beans and grains used in the fermentation process. I’m sure there is a Miso for Dummies book out there, but I haven’t gone so far as to read it yet. Unless you want to become a miso aficionado there are just a few easy tips you need to know about buying and using this delightful paste.
There are three general types of miso – white, yellow and red. Each has a varying degree of flavor with white being the mildest, usually called mellow and red being the deepest, richest paste. If you are gluten-free be sure to read the labels carefully as some miso is fermented with barley. I like both Miso Master and Cold Mountain and currently have a light yellow miso and an aged red miso in the fridge. Make sure whatever brand you buy is unpasteurized, organic and free of GMO’s.
Because miso is a living food (full of enzymes and beneficial active cultures) you must keep it refrigerated and it should never be overheated. Not only will you kill off the beneficial cultures by boiling, you’ll change the flavor and complexity of miso which is a no – no. When making a broth or soup with miso you use the same technique to keep sour cream or milk from curdling at high heat. Simply ladle a cup or so of the simmering hot broth into a separate bowl, whisk in the miso until it is fully combined, then transfer the mixture back to the simmering pot. Voila!
Let’s see, what else. Ah, think of miso soup as a beautiful simmering canvas to which you can add any number of tasty elements. I’m sharing my very basic recipe, but miso soup is like your grandmother’s chicken soup recipe– everyone has one and they are all different! Have fun and experiment using a variety of vegetables, tofu, or noodles.
Basic Miso Soup
6 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, crumbled into tiny pieces
1 (6 oz) container of extra firm tofu (I like Wild Wood Sprouted Tofu), cubed into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup miso (use more or less to taste)
2 green onions, chopped
Bring vegetable broth just to a boil, add the dried mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes to soften. Add the tofu.
Place the miso in a bowl. With a ladle add a cup of the simmering broth to the miso and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Add the miso mixture back to the pot of broth and continue simmering for a few more minutes, careful not to boil.
Add the chopped green onions and serve.
Here are some add-ins that have shown up in our our Miso Soup bowls lately:
rice noodles (a favorite of the Littles!)
thinly peeled carrot slices
Do you have a favorite Miso Soup recipe you’d like to share?