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Is Instant Miso Soup Any Good? (moved from Home Cooking)

v
Velda Mae Apr 8, 2007 12:22 PM

I was in a Japanese grocery yesterday and was tempted by instant miso soup but did not purchase. I know miso soup is easy to make from scratch but my husband doesn't eat it and I don't want to cook it just for myself. Is instant miso soup any good? Is there a particular brand I should look for?

  1. Chowbird Jan 18, 2013 11:06 AM

    You could also look for refrigerated miso (with dashi already added) and dried wakame flakes at your local Asian market(s). Much better than the dried stuff in pouches, and easy to use! Just add some of the miso to water and throw in some wakame flakes and diced tofu! The miso also keeps a long, long time.

    1. Tripeler Jan 17, 2013 11:20 PM

      I have found that the instant miso soups which are in paste form taste a lot better than those which come in powdered or granular form. They key is the miso, which I think changes too much when it is dried. The other ingredients, such as seaweeds, green onions, etc are fine when dried. Also, the fish stock portion is usually in powder, which is fine, but never exceptionally good.

      1. Bacardi1 Jan 17, 2013 03:06 PM

        I always have packages of instant miso soup in my pantry. All different brands from Trader Joe's to imported types. They've all been good, & it's so nice to be able to whip a bowl up for when I'm feeling under the weather, or to precede a take-out sushi order.

        Sometimes I add a beaten egg for a sort of Japanese Egg-Drop soup; sometimes I add cubed tofu & scallions if I have them on hand. Regardless, it's still always been completely satisfactory.

        1. bitsubeats Aug 15, 2007 11:59 PM

          like another_adam says, its not that much worse than making your own miso from scratch, especially when all you can get is crappy mini packets of bonito flakes that most japanese women wouldn't even feed to their cats. I buy a few brands of japanese instant miso that are great in a pinch. I just add both packets to a bowl, add hot water from the water cooler, mix, and I'm all set. I usually use the instant miso for making soup and I buy containers of good miso and use them for cooking or making sauces

          1. starlady Aug 15, 2007 11:24 PM

            I love Instant Miso soup and a fried egg (eaten seperately) for brekky. Of course all I am good for in the morning is boiling water for my soup and tea and cracking an egg into a fry pan.

            But for dinner I do make from scratch. BUt it's a great pick me up in the morning ar as a snack in the afternoon at work.
            The only thing I do add to my instant soup is I snip in some green onion bits for freshness and crunch.

            1. s
              simon_C Aug 15, 2007 08:35 PM

              i buy Edward&Sons MISO-CUP soup packets. each freeze dried soup packet makes 16oz of soup. its all natural too. i think its fairly tasty

              1. C. Hamster Apr 9, 2007 09:18 AM

                I'd say they are barely "just ok."

                Buy some white miso paste and some instant powdered dashi. Boil some water, add miso and the instant dashi and you're in business. You can make this by the single serving whenever you want. It's way better than the packages and is really no more difficult.

                1. v
                  Val Apr 8, 2007 04:05 PM

                  Okay, I have a package of Miko brand Instant Miso soup here, just recently purchased it...says "no msg added" "non gmo soybean used"...not sure what 'gmo' means--anyone?...with this, you get a packet of miso paste and some wakame seaweed per serving, 3 servings in all, no dried tofu (you add your own it seems)...I did try it and liked it HOWEVER, the sodium is pretty high...790 mg per serving. Ingredients are all natural too so that's good. I've read other posts on this board where people just take some miso paste and add hot water themselves to make miso soup, then, of course, you add in your seaweed and tofu, I guess--would the sodium be very different? I'm just learning about this but I do love miso and am exploring more ways to enjoy it.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Val
                    v
                    Velda Mae Apr 9, 2007 05:45 AM

                    GMO stands for genetically modified organism.

                    1. re: Velda Mae
                      v
                      Val Apr 9, 2007 06:36 AM

                      Thanks.

                    2. re: Val
                      meatn3 Aug 16, 2007 12:20 AM

                      Miso has a pretty high sodium content, it is made by fermentation. The sodium content will vary depending on the type (soy, barley, rice) of miso & the length of time it was fermented. If you make a batch of dashi (freezes well, also can be in fridge for a number of days) you can stir in just how much miso you like and have more control over the saltiness. One of the benefits of miso is that it contains beneficial bacteria, so do not boil once the miso has been stirred into the dashi or the heat will kill the bacteria. It will still taste fine but won't be as good for you.

                      Most soy is gmo these days, so if that type of production is of concern to you then you really have to read the labels & ask. Most companies using non-gmo will make sure the info is on the label.

                    3. ipsedixit Apr 8, 2007 03:35 PM

                      I think they are good in the sense that canned chicken soup is "good" -- but would I rather have canned chicken soup than a bowl made fresh, with a whole chicken, herbs and spices and slowly simmered for hours on end? No.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        monkeyrotica Jan 18, 2013 09:21 AM

                        That's true of a lot of meals, but not everybody has the time, knowledge, or inclination. I always budget time on the weekend for baking bread or making soup or stirring roux for gumbo, and I freeze what's left for the rest of the week. But sometimes I get the hankering for a nice bowl of Campbell's Bean & Bacon Soup. Same with barbecue. I regularly smoke 12lb briskets and pork shoulder for 18 hours, but sometimes, I want a quick fix and don't have 18 hours to wait. Enter the local quick fix bbq joint that sucks compared to mine, but does the job just the same.

                        And as for instant miso, Kabuto is a solid brand. Paste instead of powdered miso and a dehydrated tofu/onion packet.

                      2. a
                        another_adam Apr 8, 2007 03:19 PM

                        I'm assuming we're talking about the "dual packet" system here, with the liquid miso packet and then the packet of somewhat sorry freeze-dried tofu/wakame/scallions/etc? (I've never seen powder, that does sound dubious)

                        I'd say they're rather better than Knorr instant soups, actually. (And in fact, Japanese Knorr soups are better than American ones-- I have to admit, I happen to quite like the corn potage one for salt-laden afternoon snack :) but that's a different topic)

                        Anyway, a *lot* of Japanese people use the miso soup packs for convenience, and depending on your dashi-making skills and the quality of your katsuoboshi, the packets may end up tasting about as good as the version you would have made from scratch. There are definitely differences among brands, though. I find that some of the really cheap ones (like Kikkoman) are too salty, or taste otherwise a little off. In the mid-range, though, they tend to be quite similar. The sell-by dates are important: they do go bad, so check the date and don't bother with the "expired shelf". The only other warning is that the packaged ones do have MSG, so if that bothers you, you should probably avoid them...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: another_adam
                          m
                          maria_nyc Apr 8, 2007 03:34 PM

                          Can you recommend a brand?
                          I recently brought the ones that come in a green package that has a big number 11 in yellow inside a red circle--the kind that has the dry and paste packages.
                          It was a struggle to choose which brand to buy as all the packaging is in Japanese only, I couldn't even see an expiration date (not in English anyway)
                          This web site was part of information in the back: www.miyasaka-jozo.com

                          --M

                          1. re: maria_nyc
                            a
                            another_adam Apr 8, 2007 04:06 PM

                            Two that are quite popular are Marukome (with a fat baby logo) and hanamaruki ("flower brand"). I can't always put my fingers on these in Boston, and sometimes end up with cheaper or inferior brands, and often they're not all that bad (miyasaka seems to have extensive market penetration in the US). There are also low sodium versions of many, and when I see those, I tend to get them. (Most are already plenty salty as it is) The expiration date *should* be stamped on the top where it's sealed, usually.

                            As for the canned vs fresh chicken soup comparison-- yes, I'm certainly not saying that instant is as good as a Japanese mom's version, homemade by individual technique. For those of us who can't always find really nice katsuoboshi where we live, though, and would end up using bland ones or powdered dashi anyway, it's probably not so incredibly different. (Think more like the comparison with chicken soup made with a flavorless factory farm supermarket chicken) There are some decent (not great, decent) tetrapak broths these days, and I'd put the better instant miso's in that category with them.

                            1. re: another_adam
                              v
                              Val Apr 8, 2007 04:11 PM

                              Hey, adam...even though the package of my instant miso soup says Miko brand it also says manufactured by Miyasaka Brewery...kind of confusing but I guess Miyasaka is the predominant producer of miso soup in Japan.

                              1. re: Val
                                a
                                another_adam Apr 8, 2007 04:33 PM

                                Or at least one of the major exporters? I'm not sure what the conglomeration relations are, but I'm pretty sure Marukome and Hanamaruki are distinct (and maybe more popular in Japan?)

                        2. MikeG Apr 8, 2007 01:14 PM

                          Define "any good." It's about as good as the Knorr-Swiss instant soups if that helps any....

                          1. Emme Apr 8, 2007 01:13 PM

                            I have to say the little individual boxes of pre-made miso soup at Whole Foods are really good. They're not that expensive either.

                            I'm blanking on the brand name, but there is a powder that comes in a white pouch (several packs in a pouch) available in both red and white miso, and both are quite good. A little spicier for my taste, but still good. Personally, I prefer the WF boxed ones.

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