Adventures in Miso Soup
Updated: Jul 31
Every time I go to a Japanese restaurant, I always get miso soup. I find it super comforting and satisfying. So I decided to try my hand at something in Japanese cuisine for the first time ever.
I mostly make white food, so when I started researching miso soup, I became kind of intimidated by dashi, a Japanese broth situation, and miso, which is fermented soybeans. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. The first recipe I read strongly recommended making your own dashi. I tried this and went out of my way to order kombu seaweed, which comes in these thick dried seaweed slabs, and bonito fish flakes. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but the resulting miso soup was very sour and I couldn't finish it.
This was discouraging, because I already felt incompetent at this cuisine I love so much but do not understand. I reached out to my good friend Theo, who lived in Japan for two years. They were very surprised that I made my own dashi, texting me that that was far too much work and that everyone just uses dashi granules instead.
With this renewed clarity, I found a recipe that uses dashi granules and is dead simple. The first time I followed it, my miso soup was only a little sour. The third and fourth and nth times, each time with a couple of tweaks, it's at least as good as restaurant miso soup, usually better. Here is what I did 🥣
You will need:
4 cups of filtered water
1/2 onion (or 1 shallot)
1 tablespoon of dashi granules (I used Hondashi)
4 tablespoons of miso. There are different varieties; I've tried brown rice miso and white miso and both have been good
Around 7 oz of silken tofu
1/3-1/2 cup of wakame dried seaweed
You can buy these from your local Asian grocery store. I don't have one nearby so I ordered these ingredients through the Chowbus app.
Finely dice the onion and place in a pot with filtered water and dashi granules. Set to high.
Once it starts to boil, promptly lower the heat to low so that it's just simmering. This is very important because I believe that over-boiling the dashi granules may make the soup sour. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
Then, put your miso in a strainer, and place the strainer on top of your soup. The goal is to have part of the strainer submerged in the water, so that the miso can dissolve in the soup without its clumps getting in there. You might need to experiment with the size of the strainer vis-à-vis your pot to get this to work. Swirl the miso around with chopsticks or a similar utensil.
Once only the clumps are left in the strainer (1 minute at most), add your diced tofu and wakame seaweed, swirl around, and serve!
Just looking at this picture fills my soul with wholesomeness and umami. This soup is delicious, and this particular recipe includes a lot of tofu and seaweed, which makes the soup a little more substantial. Lately I've been adding kimchi to my miso soup, which makes it spicier and delicious in a different way. I will probably keep on experimenting and will try some more Japanese recipes soon.