Miso soup is a common fixture on Japanese menus. This traditional dish is made with dashi, a stock found in various other dishes, and it can be personalized with extra ingredients to suit your own tastes.
If you’ve never tried miso soup, it’s a delicious broth with a rich, salty taste, often with tofu or meat. While you can find it at most Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, you can also make it at home.
Sounds difficult? Actually, miso soup is fairly simple to cook, and makes a terrific starter before sushi.
What Do You Need to Make Miso Soup at Home?
You’ll need two sets of ingredients, to create the stock and the soup itself separately.
Two cups of water
Half a cup of bonito flakes, usually dried
A piece of kombu, otherwise known as dried kelp
If you’re vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth instead!
Four ounces of tofu, either firm or soft
One or two scallions
Miso paste (white or red – your choice)
Step One – Preparing the Dashi
Start by putting your kombu and water together in a saucepan, over a medium heat. Just before the water begins to boil, take the kombu away and add your bonito flakes.
Let your water simmer for around a minute, before taking the pan away from the heat. You want the bonito flakes to steep for around five minutes.
When the time’s passed, strain your bonito, and add extra water to make the dashi up to two whole cups (if it’s not already that amount).
Step Two – Getting Your Scallions and Tofu Ready
Pick up your knife (ideally, a Japanese steel knife for precision). Grab your tofu and chop it into small cubes, perhaps a quarter-inch or half-inch on either side.
Next, slice your scallions into thin, even portions.
Step Three – Simmering the Soup
Okay, now you’re ready to pour your dashi (or your alternative broth) into your saucepan. Once it’s back inside, put the heat on to medium, and let the dashi simmer.
Step Four – Getting Your Miso Mixed
Put your miso paste in a measuring cup, and add around half a cup of your broth. Mix it all up with a whisk (or a fork, if you don’t have a whisk).
You want the miso paste to become dissolved in the water, without any thickness or lumps. Next, add the miso to the broth simmering in your saucepan.
Step Five – Adding Your Tofu and Scallions
First, turn the heat down a little, and put the chopped tofu into the miso.
Let the broth simmer until the tofu’s warm, for a minute or two, but take care not to let it boil.
Then, add the scallions to the miso soup before you serve it, and then pour the soup into bowls.
Generally, miso soup is at its tastiest when eaten fresh off the hob. Don’t be worried if it settles after a while – just whisk it to break it up again. You can either use a spoon to eat miso soup or sipped from the bowl itself, while you can pick the tofu and scallions out with your chopsticks.
Remember, if your soup isn’t quite perfect on your first try, don’t let that put you off. Just try and try again!