One of my favorite comfort dishes is simple Japanese miso soup, often served in Japanese restaurants as an appetizer. Miso soup is made from a few simple ingredients such as miso paste, bonito flakes, and seaweed; while it’s not difficult to make, there are some tricks to make it as close to restaurant quality as possible. Miso soup is great for rainy days or when you’re feeling ill; it’s the Japanese equivalent of chicken soup.
First and foremost, a warning: never let the finished product boil.
Boiling the finished soup makes it curdle. Don’t let it boil.
- Miso paste, 8 tbsp
- Bonito flakes, 4 tbsp
- Kombu seaweed, 2 large sheets
- Wakame seaweed, 2 tbsp
- Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
- Tofu, either silken or firm, half a block
- Chives or scallions, finely chopped, 8 tbsp
- Onion, finely julienned, 8 tbsp
- 8 cups of water
- Large pot
- Fine mesh skimming spoon
- 4 serving bowls
- Reserve half a cup of water in a separate bowl. Pour the remainder into the pot.
- Add the bonito flakes and kombu to the water. Bring this to a boil.
- After reaching a boil, let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- While this simmers, using a spoon, stir the miso paste into the reserved water until fully blended into a thin paste.
- Stir in the onions.
- Use the skimming spoon and tongs to remove the kombu and skim out the used bonito flakes.
- Turn off the heat so that the soup will not boil.
- Stir in the miso paste from the bowl.
- Stir in the tofu, soy sauce, and wakame.
- Let sit for 5 minutes. While waiting, portion equal amounts of the scallions/chives into the serving bowls.
- Stir and ladle the soup into the bowls.
Serving and Variations
Miso soup is a fine dish on its own. Add a side of rice to it or add udon noodles to the broth after step 4 to make it a meal.
As long as you never permit the final product to come to a boil, you’ll enjoy miso soup whenever you want it. I linked the ingredients to their Amazon counterparts if you live in a place where they’re hard to get. One suggestion: keep the miso paste in the freezer. While it’s already fermented, it can mold in the refrigerator after a month or so; in the freezer, it’ll last nearly forever.
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Also published on Medium.