Jan 21

How To Make Basic Tofu & Wakame Miso Soup

in Fuji Favorites, Japanese, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Soup & Stew

So now we’ve talked about miso soup and we’ve learned to make dashi.  As I said in my last post, making miso soup consists of 3 steps:

1) Making dashi.
2) Cooking the vegetables, fish, and other ingredients in the dashi.
3) Adding the miso just before serving.

Today we’re going to focus on steps 2 and 3—we are ready to make some miso-shiru (miso soup)!

A bowl of miso soup

To make miso soup, fresh veggies/mushrooms are simmered until tender in dashi.  If you are adding ingredients like wakame (my favorite!), they are added right before the veggies finish cooking.  Then the miso is added, and the soup is reheated and served!  It is so quick and easy.  Depending on what you add to your miso soup, it can be ready within 5 minutes of when you start making it!  It might take a bit longer, but this will just be due to adding something that takes a bit longer to cook through.  Vegetables are usually sliced/diced fine so that they will cook quickly.  The reason that the miso is added at the end is that it only requires a very short cooking time.  You should never bring the soup to a boil or cook it for a long period of time after the miso has been added because it ruins the flavor of the miso and the texture will become gritty.  After miso soup sits for a few minutes, the miso separates from the dashi.  This is totally normal!  Just stir it with your chopsticks and it will mix together again.

How to add the miso to the dashi (to avoid miso lumps):

– Place the miso for your soup in a small cup/bowl.  Remove about 1/2 cup of your hot dashi from the pot and add it a little at a time to the miso, mixing it until it is thoroughly mixed.  Then add the mixture back into the soup.

Mixing the miso paste and dashi

– Another method is to place your miso in a small sieve/strainer and partially immerse the sieve in the dashi and press the miso through the sieve with the back of a spoon.  In Japan they often use special strainers specially designed for this purpose called miso-koshi.

Miso-koshi (miso strainer)

Rule of thumb: For each cup of dashi, use about 1 tablespoon of miso (use 2 or 3 tablespoons if using a sweet miso).  Of course you can add more or less depending on your own tastes!

Now let’s talk a bit about the miso itself.  I’ve had a few questions surrounding the labeling of miso and I hope that this will help!

Miso Basics

Different Varieties of Miso

There are hundreds of different types of miso due to miso being  made with different combinations of grains and beans, or soybeans only, and different lengths of fermentation time.  When reading a recipe that calls for miso, it can be very confusing.  Many recipes call for either dark or light miso, but some recipes will get more specific, calling for aka miso, shiro miso, genmai miso, kome miso, mugi miso, etc.   Ultimately, if a recipe is asking for a specific type of miso it is because it has a certain outcome in mind.  Here are some basic pieces of information to keep in mind (this is only the tip of the miso iceberg, but it is enough to get you making miso soup!):

  • Although miso is often classified as either light or dark, there are many shades in between.
  • If a recipe calls for dark miso, you can use any kind of aka miso (aka means red and refers to red/brown colored miso).  Darker miso tends to be saltier and more robust in flavor.
  • If a recipe calls for light miso, you can use any kind of shiro miso (shiro means white and refers to pale yellow/creamy beige colored miso).  Lighter miso tends to be sweeter in flavor and lower in salt content.
  • You can use more than one kind of miso in a recipe (I like a combination of white and red miso).  Blending different kinds of miso is called awase miso.
  • Miso should be stored in a cool, dark place.    (I suggest storing it in the refrigerator.)  After a container of miso has been opened it will usually keep unspoiled in the refrigerator for 6 months or more.

You now know all the basics of making miso soup!  If you want to start with a miso soup that is familiar, you can make a bowl of tofu and wakame miso soup (the type of miso soup most often served in Japanese restaurants in the US).  If you want, you can dress it up a little bit by adding enoki mushrooms!

Enoki Mushrooms

Ok, take a deep breath, this is easy!  You are just 5 minutes away from your favorite bowl of miso soup that will rival any restaurant’s bowl of tofu and wakame soup!

Tofu & Wakame Miso Soup

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Tofu & Wakame Miso Soup

Makes 3 -4 servings

3 1/2 cups dashi
1 tablespoon dried wakame, soaked in water for 5 minutes then drained
1 package enoki mushrooms (about 3 ounces), trimmed (optional)
3 tablespoons miso (I use 2 tablespoons shiro miso and 1 tablespoon aka miso)
5 – 7 ounces firm tofu, cut into 3/8-inch cubes

1. Bring the dashi to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the wakame and mushrooms (if you are using them), and simmer for 1 minute.

2. Add the miso (using one of the methods detailed above) to the dashi, and then the tofu*, and reheat slightly (but do not boil).  Serve immediately.

* You can also divide the tofu between 3 or 4 bowls and then ladle the soup over the tofu when it is finished.


Coming Next: A simple recipe for white fish miso soup + more ideas of what to include in your miso soup!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine@Christine's Recipes January 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I’m a big fan of Tofu & Wakame Miso Soup. Whenever we dine out in a Japanese restaurant, this soup has to be one of our orders.
Your soup looks super yummy!


Drick January 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm

just wanted to say I love your new look – so clean and presentable….ya know I know nothing about tofu except I see it in the markets … but I know I would love your soup if you made it


Rachel J January 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Excellent post! Miso is one of my fav soups when I’m sick. This easy-to-do at home will prevent my embarassing sick trips to the Japanese restaurants. ^_^


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm

SO easy! Wow Rachael is all I can say. I have always thought those soups were so complicated but I guess it’s just a matter of having the right ingredients (and your recipes)!


Donna - Dishy Goodness January 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Hi, Rachael! Just wanted to compliment you on the beautiful photography and food styling. Everything is so crisp and clean. Lovely work!


Diana@Spain in Iowa January 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Okay Rachael, I’m following you here! I’m getting some stuff tomorrow to make this next week. Me being me, I would love to know how to make fermented miso at home. What kind of legumes would I need? How long of fermentation time? I’m SOOO interested!! This sounds and looks delicious!!!!


Alice Bolen January 21, 2010 at 9:37 pm

This was very informative and I love all of those ingredients. Thanks for this great recipe. Enoki mushrooms are so cute!


Daniel@thefoodaddicts January 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for the great informative post. Miso is such a flavorful soup that is healthy as well.


Sarah, Maison Cupcake January 22, 2010 at 6:24 am

Before reading this series of posts I’d never realised that there was both so much and so little to making miso soup. I’d quite ignorantly being adding just boiling water to my miso paste and drinking it. Now I know what is involved in making it as nice as when I’ve had it in restaurants. Thanks.


Debi (Table Talk) January 22, 2010 at 6:36 am

Your timing on this series was right on: we have had chilly rain and drear all week, and each day my craving for Miso Soup has grown. Your posts this week have sparked a dinner party…having friends over tomorrow night. Making Volcano Rolls, Hawaiian Rolls with Lobster, and of course, your Miso Soup!


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction January 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

Such great tips… Homemade Miso Soup is definitely on my to-do list!


Kelly @ EvilShenanigans January 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

Wow, I am impressed with how much knowledge you have to share about miso! I feel a lot smarter, now … and hungry! That bowl of soup looks amazing!


Jen @ Tiny Urban Kitchen January 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Gorgeous pictures! And I love enoki mushrooms.


Juls @ Juls' Kitchen January 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Now I’m ready to make my miso, I just need the ingredients!


zurin January 23, 2010 at 5:28 am

Tq for such an informative post…Im definitely goingto make this soon !! tq again ..love ur blog:)


dropfood January 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

a nice recipe


Angeline January 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

After buying all the basic ingredients for Miso Soup today, I found your recipe and was surprised how incredibly easy and quick it was to prepare. Done within 5 minutes indeed. And, besides the missing spring onions that I like having in miso soup (but could get at the store today), it tasted exactly the way I wanted =)
Thanks for posting the receipe!
Greetings from Austria.


Erica June 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm

This is a great & easy step-by-step recipe. I just tried this and my soup ended up really salty. Any ideas where I went wrong?


Emma March 9, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Haha, maybe instead of 3 tablespoons miso paste, you should put in 3 teaspoons! I tried this today too and as much as I wanted to love it, it was just unbearably salty for me. :P But maybe some people desire the “umami” flavor. I’m a japanese food noob so I wouldn’t really know for sure!


Dole Nutrition Institute January 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Though this comment seems to be a bit late is the game, its great to see you debunk the myth that miso soup is hard to make!


MARY MURPHEY March 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

The reason you do not ”boil” miso after it has been added to your soup is boiling kills the natural enzymes that the miso has which are beneficial to health…


www.crepamia.com July 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm

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Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking
and checking back often!


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