Around the World in 80 Plates: Miso Soup, Japan 3/80

Ever bought those little packets of instant miso soup? It’s mainly powder with a few pieces of dehydrated tofu and spring onions. Maybe some seaweed if you’re lucky.

It’s as easy to prepare as making a cup of tea but once you’ve made your own from scratch, you’ll never go back to the instant stuff again.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the heartiest (and easiest) miso soup you can have at home, but you’ve got to make it yourself.

Don’t worry, once you know where to get the ingredients, it’s pretty simple to make.

Cut up the tofu and spring onions, rehydrate the seaweed, dissolve the powder and paste ingredients you’ve picked up and you’ve got yourself a nice bowl of miso soup chock full of deliciousness and flavour.

There are a few ingredients you’ll need, but nothing a quick trip to a Japanese shop can’t fix.

Dashi, red miso paste and wakame seaweed

Dashi, red miso paste and wakame seaweed

Dried seaweed isn’t in all miso soup recipes, but I like it. It’s easy to prepare and it absorbs a lot of water so don’t overdo it.

It’s quick and easy to rehydrate so start with a small amount – you can always add more.

Put the seaweed in a small bowl and add cold water until the seaweed is just covered. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and rinse it briefly before adding it to the soup.

There are many types of dried seaweed and I’m not even going to pretend to know the difference. Other recipes I’ve found use wakame seaweed, so that’s what I get.

Dried wakame seaweed

Dried wakame seaweed

Dashi is a Japanese stock powder used for soups. It’s often made with fish stock, but I use dashi from kelp (kombu). The dashi gives miso soup that umami flavour – a lovely, full, savoury taste that makes you want more.

Mine comes in small packets and I find one packet is just enough for this recipe, but play around – different brands, flavours and personal tastes might mean you need more or less powder.

If you really can’t find dashi, normal stock powder will work in a pinch, but trust me, it won’t be the same.

Kelp dashi

Kelp dashi

Miso paste is obviously what puts the miso in miso soup.

Miso paste comes from fermented soybeans and is used in many Japanese dishes. I alternate between using white and red miso paste – the latter is more common for miso soup but either one works. It’s quite salty on its own but once dissolved, is very tasty.

The miso paste shouldn’t be boiled as doing so will kill the beneficial bacteria and will result in a gritty soup. Trust me, no one wants a gritty miso soup.

Needless to say, this is miso soup so the miso paste is kind of a key ingredient. Don’t even bother trying to substitute.

It goes without saying, but miso soup is a perfect first course to sushi and other Japanese rice dishes.

It’s even eaten for breakfast in Japan (with rice, of course).

Miso Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 3-4 servings
Miso soup made with white miso paste

Miso soup made with white miso paste


1-2 Tbsp dried seaweed
700ml water
1 packet dashi (about 6g)
4 spring onions, cut into rings
½ packet tofu (about 200g), cut into small cubes
40g miso paste, red or white


  1. In a small bowl, cover seaweed with cold water and let soak for 5 minutes or as package says
  2. Rinse seaweed and set aside
  3. Separately, heat the water in a pan to just below a simmer
  4. Dissolve dashi in hot water
  5. Take out a small cup of the dashi-spiced hot (not boiling) water, dissolve the miso paste in it and set aside
  6. Add spring onions and tofu to the rest of the hot water in the pan
  7. Let the tofu get hot but do not let it boil
  8. Stir in the dissolved miso paste
  9. Add seaweed and serve

Note that this recipe uses UK measurements, temperatures and ingredients. It can certainly be made outside the UK but ingredients may differ slightly, go by different names or need to be substituted altogether.

If you change this recipe to make it work outside the UK or if you have your own, please share in the comments!

Check out more recipes in my Around the World in 80 Plates series.

Fancy more posts about Asia? Look no further.

Inspired to cook some international dishes? I’ve got your recipe needs covered.

Feeling hungry? Don’t look at these posts.

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