Miso Soup (味噌汁)

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of seafood based stock called dashi (だし or 出汁) and miso paste (みそ or 味噌).  Most Japanese meals are served with a bowl of miso soup and steamed rice.  This recipe is for the most basic miso soup, which consists of  just tofu, wakame (seaweed, you may see it written as ワカメ, わかめ,  若布,  or 和布 in Japanese), and green onion.  However, there are many different kinds of ingredients that can be added to miso soup, so I encourage you to do a little recipe research and experiment in the kitchen to find your own favorite.

Miso paste varies in saltiness depending on type:

  • Red/aka miso ( 赤みそ/ 赤味噌): darker rust red/burnt orange color, robust flavor, can be very salty
  • White/shiro miso (白みそ/ 白味噌): golden/yellow color, milder flavor, less salty
  • Mixed/awase miso (合わせみそ/ 合わせ味噌): color and flavor vary depending on the exact blend

Different brands of miso can also vary in flavor, so I recommend taste testing your soup as you add the miso paste. You can also easily make your own custom awase miso blend by mixing red and white miso at home.

Dashi can be purchased either in granular, instant form, i.e., “hon dashi” (ほんだし) or in dashi packets (like tea bags, but filled with shaved fish and seaweed). Personally, if I’m making a big pot of soup, I prefer to make my dashi stock from scratch, as I find the flavor to be better, and it’s really not that hard to make. Also, some hon dashi brands use MSG to amp up the flavor in their products, which can be a health issue for some people. If you want to try making your own home made dashi, see my following note for a base recipe (along with two vegetarian variations).

  • 3 cups homemade dashi or see how to make quick dashi below*
  • 3 tablespoons miso
  • 6 oz. silken tofu or soft tofu
  • 2 teaspoons dried ready-to-use wakame (seaweed)
  • 1 green onion/scallion
For quick dashi:
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 dashi packet or 1¼ tsp. dashi powder


*If using home made dashi, bring 3 cups of stock to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and skip to step #4.

  1. In a medium saucepan, add water and dashi packet (some brands of dashi packet may ask you to add the packet after boiling). If you are using dashi powder, bring water to a boil and stir in the dashi powder and it’s ready to use.
  2. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. After boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Discard the packet and dashi is ready to use.
  4. Put 1 tablespoon of miso in a ladle (or strainer) and blend it with dashi until it is thoroughly mixed. Continue this process until miso is all used. Usually each cup of dashi, you will need about 1 tablespoon of miso. If you add tofu in your miso soup, tofu dilutes the soup a little bit so you might want to add ½ tablespoon more miso.
  5. Cut tofu into ½” (1 cm) cubes and add to the soup. Stir gently without breaking the tofu.
  6. Soak dried wakame in water to rehydrate for 10 minutes and drain well.
  7. Finely slice the green onion and put the wakame and green onion in each bowl.
  8. Return the miso soup to a slight simmer until heated through and pour into the bowls. Be careful not to boil the miso soup because miso will lose flavor.
  • To make vegetarian miso soup, use kombu dashi.
  • Each brand or kind of miso has different level of saltiness; therefore, add miso 1 tablespoon at a time and taste the soup before you add more miso.
  • You can use gluten-free miso to make this recipe gluten-free.