What is Miso Soup and How to Make It
Dining in an authentic Japanese restaurant will never be complete without a hearty serving of miso soup. This is one of Japan’s most consumed foods, and it is easy to see why. This is a soup that’s packed with nutrients. It is also very easy to make. Here is how to make miso soup.
An Overview of Miso Soup
What is miso soup? This is one of two basic types of soups in Japanese cuisine. It combines the salty, savory, and earthy flavors of miso and the umami taste of Dashi. Other ingredients can also help complement the unique flavor profile of the soup.
Chinese Buddhist monks introduced the miso to the Japanese in the 6th century AD. The early Japanese ate miso as is. Some of them spread miso onto other foods. During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, people began including miso paste in a savory broth. The Japanese samurai warriors at the time loved the new creation. It did not take long before the common people started making miso soup for their own families.
Today, more than 75 percent of Japanese consume miso soup every single day.
Benefits of Miso Soup
Is miso soup healthy? If you look at the Japanese people who make it a habit to consume miso soup every single day, then you know that it is good for you. Here are some of the health benefits of miso soup that you deserve to know.
- Improves heart health
Miso soup contains saponins, linoleic acid, and vitamin K2 that can help lower cholesterol levels. This can help improve the health of the heart, while also lowering heart disease risk.
- Promotes healthy digestion
This soup also contains probiotics that can help improve digestion. They can also facilitate the more efficient absorption of nutrients.
- Strengthens the bones
There is calcium, manganese, and magnesium in miso soup. These are minerals that strengthen the bones. They can also reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
- Promotes overall health
Miso soup contains other nutrients, such as zinc, vitamin K, manganese, and copper. It is also rich in protein. These nutrients can supplement the nutrients that you get from other foods.
Key Ingredients of an Authentic Miso Soup
If you are planning to make a homemade miso soup, it is crucial to understand the key ingredients. The classic recipe only calls for two ingredients: dashi and miso paste. However, you can put almost anything to the soup that will suit your taste.
The Dashi is one of the most important ingredients for making miso soup. If you want to make the soup as authentic as possible, you cannot accept any substitute for a Dashi. The good thing about this Japanese stock is that it is very easy to make. The classic Dashi only calls for a combination of dried kelp or “kombu” and dried bonito flakes or “katsuobushi”. There are also Japanese who make use of anchovies instead of bonito and kelp. And if you are vegetarian, you can skip the other ingredients and use only the dried kelp.
- Other ingredients
As already mentioned, you can put almost anything in miso soup. However, it is important to understand that some ingredients need more time to cook than others. If the ingredient takes time to cook, then you should put them in the stock before it starts to boil. Examples of these ingredients include carrots, daikon, onion, turnip, potato, kabocha squash, and clams.
If the ingredients take less time to cook, then you can add them to the stock after the Dashi has started boiling. These can include bean sprouts, egg, Napa cabbage, mushrooms, wakame seaweed, and spinach, among others.
How to Make Miso Soup
Now that we have an idea of the basics, let us now learn how to make miso soup. This miso soup recipe is good for about 2 servings. You can adjust the amount of the ingredients to suit your needs.
Ingredients for the Dashi
- 4 cups of water
- 1/3 ounces of “katsuobushi”
- 1/3 ounces of “kombu”
Ingredients for Miso Soup
- 2 cups of Dashi
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of miso
- ½ sheet of dried seaweed or Nori, cut into rectangles and rehydrated a bowl of water
- ¼ cup of chopped green chard
- 1/8 cup of tofu, cubed
- 1 piece of scallion or green onion, chopped fine
- Start by making the dashi. Take one piece of dried kelp and clean it using a damp towel. This will help remove any particles that may be present on the surface. Do not wash the dried kelp. You may also see a white substance on the surface. Do not remove this, too. This gives the “kombu” its distinct umami taste. Soak the dried kelp in 4 cups of water overnight or at least 30 minutes. This will rehydrate the “kombu”. Do not discard the water. This is your Kombu Dashi.
- Bring the Kombu Dashi to a boil. Do it slowly by turning the heat to only medium-low. This will help extract the kombu’s umami flavor.
- Before the Kombu Dashi begins to boil, remove the “kombu” and discard.
- As the Kombu Dashi starts to boil, add the dried bonito flakes. Simmer the Dashi for about 30 to 60 seconds before turning off the heat. Let the Dashi steep for about 10 minutes.
- Pour the Dashi through a fine-mesh sieve and into a container. This is your Dashi stock or Awase Dashi.
- When you are ready to make your miso soup, pour 2 cups of the Awase Dashi in a saucepan. Bring the Dashi stock to a boil.
- Scoop half a cup of the hot Dashi and add the miso paste. Whisk to dissolve the miso.
- Pour the dissolved miso into the Dashi. Add the tofu and green chard. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the rehydrated Nori and the green onion or scallion.
- Serve at once.
Miso soup is an important part of Japanese culture. It is full of nutrients that can provide a number of health benefits. The best part is that it is easy to make a homemade miso soup. It is also very versatile.