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Feb 2, 2010 12:03 PM

How difficult is it to make good home-made miso soup?

Can anyone point me to a good recipe? My current approach -- taking a thermos to my local sushi restaurant and begging -- is getting old. Or is this something that shouldn't be approached by a home cook? Fwiw, I'm a reasonably competent cook, but have no experience whatsoever with Asian ingredients or cooking methods.

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  1. Where angels fear to tread....Its really quite easy if you buy a few ingredients -

    first some good
    dashino-moto (basically instant dashi/stock granules made from bonito flakes and kombu (kelp), the main ingredients for the broth). Dissolve a small amount of these in hot (near boiling) water. My current product (see below) calls for 1 tsp granules for 4 servings (say 3-4 C water) If your stock doesnt have kombu in it, you can put a few leaves of dried kombu seaweed in the hot stock for a few minutes until softened and it gives up its flavor (eat it or pull it out your pick) most recently I have just used the hon dashi with kombu extract in it. the brand I have now is Shimaya Bonito Flavored Seasoning (note its number one ingredient is MSG) but there are many, I think Hon Dashi is another.
    After your broth is simmering and ready - NOT boiling - , spoon about 1 tbsp per serving of miso paste, your preference red, white or whatever, into a cup or small bowl and whisk or blend it with several spoonfulls of the stock until it is smooth and loosened. this step is necessary, dont skip. Then spoon this into the simmering broth.

    When the miso is dissolved (it looks really interesting as this is happening)
    add your solid ingredients, say small cubes of bean curd, a few slices of scallion, etc. Simmer till well warmed - do not boil, then you can serve or package into your thermos.

    So you basically have 3-4 ingredients inexpensive ingredients and a simple process that will only take a few minutes.

    Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb

      I bought the ingredients to make miso at home last week. The dashi stock granules were $3, a huge bag of white miso paste was less than $4, and a pack of dried seaweed was around $3. I was a little intimidated cooking with new ingredients, but I was shocked by how simple and quick the soup was. Start to finish I think it was about 20 minutes, and it was excellent! Now that I've got the basics in the house, I'm looking forward to trying some variations.

    2. Here are two easy ways. How easy? Just add hot water.

      In any food store that carries some oriental products, look in the chill chest or possibly on the shelves for a small tub labeled Dashi Miso. One tablespoon of the paste dissolved in one cup of hot water, and presto! Miso soup. Though it will be even more miso soup if you add some diced tofu, scallions, or whatever to it.

      Trader Joe's sells an Instant Miso Soup, 4 packets to a box - not just powder to make the soup, but freeze-dried tofu and stuff as well.

      There may be ways to make better miso soup, but none simpler!

      1. It's just miso paste stirred into dashi with green onions and tofu. For dashi, simmer kombu and bonito for a little while. Remove kombu and bonito. Stir in miso paste. Simmer. Add cubed tofu. Simmer. Turn off heat and top with chopped green onions.

        2 Replies
        1. re: link_930

          I've made my own dashi and have used the instant dashi granules. Both taste good. Just depends on my time factor. I have kombu and bags of bonito in the cabinet but sometimes the granules are just so easy.

          1. re: link_930

            I am a dashi fanatic, but I understand not everyone is as obsessive as I am, and sometimes you must take shortcuts. In the interest of at least using actual kombu and bonito (versus granules), here's a tip to make the process quicker: tie the bonito up in a piece of cheesecloth to make the removal much easier. No straining needed, just pull the cheesecloth bag out of the pot.

          2. As others have pointed out, miso soup is as simple as can be: dashi or homemade fish or chicken stock, paste miso blended in a bit of water and lime juice (not included by other posters), tofu, scallions or green onions, touch of grated ginger, shitaake mushrioom, and some wakame or nori. Takes five minutes for breakfast misoshiru.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              How much lime juice and ginger do you put in your miso? Sometimes a bowl of miso is too much umami and too little contrast. I've tried sambal and vinegar to add a little balance, but they were never quite right.

              1. re: JungMann

                That's somewhat to taste, but you don't want to overpower the bowl.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Juice from one (juicy) lime for about four servings; just a bit of finely grated ginger or a couple of slices tossed in for flavor.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Back in Japan, men in white hats
                    Administering Miso.

                    I will never forget them.
                    They kept it so simple.

                    Simple dollop of Miso
                    to bottom of bowl.

                    Curled from the curve of two dancing spoons.
                    Well sat to the moment fulfillment of Dashi

                    There is wonderful Zen quest
                    in the making of Dashi.

                    The shaving of flakes OF SO GOOD THE bONITO

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Now I know what to do with the kombu, katsuobushi and miso paste that's left over in the pantry from our recent COTM Japanese month. The nice thing is I have all the other ingredients on hand. Thanks Sam.

                  The only question I have is should I use mochigome, brown japonica, or white japonica?... Or... do I even need rice?

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I tried your addition of lime juice and ginger last night, it was delicious, thank you very much for sharing the tip.

                  2. making dashi is easy - DO NOT SIMMER kombu and bonito flakes.

                    put kombu in cold warter. slowly heat, so that it takes at least 10 minutes to come to a boil. BEFORE it boils remove the kombu. bring to a boil. turn of heat and add bonito flakes. wait a minute or 2 - the flakes should sink. strain. voila - dashi.

                    now take a small amount of dashi and thin miso paste with it, and then add that back into the dashi. BANG - miso soup. add tofu, scallions, and if you like a little wakame seaweed.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: thew

                      thew's recipe is for ichiban dashi and is good for clear soups. you only keep the bonito flakes in for a couple minutes to preserve a more subtle flavor.

                      many people simmer the bonito flakes for longer to create a secondary (niban) dashi. niban is often created with the leftover bonito and new water, but you can also just simmer the original dashi for longer -- the point is that the bonito flakes still have more flavor to give after 1-2 minutes. this creates a less subtle, but stronger dashi. i think it is better for miso soup.

                      do not keep kombu in the water after it boils or it will let off an unpleasant flavor. after taking the kombu out, simmer the bonito water for longer (10 minutes or so) to release more bonito flavor. then you can strain, and add miso.