Two Basic Parts 

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called "dashi" into which softened miso paste is mixed. Many ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preference.

The choice of miso paste for the miso soup defines a great deal of its character and flavor. Miso pastes can be categorized into red (akamiso), white (shiromiso), or mixed (awase). There are many variations within these themes, including regional variations, such as Shinshū miso or Sendai miso. It is added to the stock or Dashi. I think of it as the potatoes in a beef stew, it adds a lot but doesn’t overwhelm…

Dashi Or Stock

The most common dashi soup stocks for miso soup are
made of:

  • niboshi (dried baby sardines)
  • kombu (dried kelp)
  • katsuobushi (thin shavings of dried and smoked bonito, aka skipjack tuna)
  • hoshi shiitake (dried shiitake)

The kombu ( Dried Kelp ) can also be used in combination with katsuobushi or hoshi-shiitake. The kelp and/or shiitake dash serve as a vegetarian soup stock.  Again, Dashi is a Japanese stock, and it is a fundamental ingredient in many Japanese dishes.  Dashi can be made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked bonito/skipjack tuna that is shaved into thin flakes), iriko or niboshi (anchovies/sardine), or a combination of all or two of them.  ( Basically fish and kelp stock)

We make dashi almost everyday and use it in many dishes.  I usually make a big pot of dashi, and use some portions of it for my main or side dishes.  The leftover dashi in the pot becomes the base for Japanese dishes are always served with a bowl of miso soup, so no dashi will end up going to waste.

American Style Miso

Using a few local tricks, well more like counterfeit  thinking for the lazier gringo entrepreneur, we can make American or European style miso soup is sometimes made by simply dissolving MISO in a Western vegetable stock. The stock might include ingredients such as NEGI, carrot, potato and daikon radish.   

Negi is also known as the Welsh onion, Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion, also commonly called bunching onion, long green onion, Japanese bunching onion, and spring onion, is a species of perennial plant. The species is very similar in taste and odor to the related common onion, Allium.cepa, and hybrids between the two exist. 

I would not be honest if I said I did not enjoy some versions of the dish with chicken stock, Western-style fish and Seafood stock, and other non-dashi bases can even be used, but there is some debate over whether or not Miso soups made using these non-traditional bases count as true Misoshiru.   OK true believers,  I will live in mortal sin, No fear, I will not commit Seppuku, sometimes referred to as harakiri.  I like variety and just like chicken Broth you can take it down many paths. 

Christian Japanese refugees who came to the Philippines during the Edo period brought along miso soup, but the Filipino recipe “Sinigang”  differs mainly by the inclusion of tamarind, which gives it a more sour taste than the original Japanese version.

The Solid Ingredients

According to Japanese custom, the solid ingredients are chosen to reflect the seasons and to provide contrasts of color, texture, and flavor. Thus negi and tofu, a strongly flavored ingredient mixed with a delicately flavored ingredient, are often combined. 

Ingredients that float, such as wakame seaweed, and ingredients that sink, such as potatoes, are also combined. Ingredients may include mushrooms, potatoes, seaweed, onion, shrimp, fish, and grated or sliced daikon. 

Nearly any Japanese ingredient is added to some type of misoshiru. However, misoshiru does not typically contain many ingredients beyond the stock and miso.  If pork is added to miso soup, it is called tonjiru (rendaku changes "shiru" to "jiru"), meaning "pork soup".

Preparation - Miso Soup

"You can use yellow, white, or red miso paste for the soup, depending on your preference. You will also need dashi, which is made of dried kelp (seaweed) and dried bonito (fish), and can be purchased in granules or powder form in conveniently-sized jars."


2 teaspoons dashi granules
4 cups water
3 tablespoons miso paste
1 (8 ounce) package silken tofu, diced
2 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine dashi granules and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the miso paste. Stir in tofu. Separate the layers of the green onions, and add them to the soup. Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Instant miso soup is available in single-serving packets. It generally contains dried wakame and tofu with soy beans that reconstitute rapidly on the addition of hot water. These are popular in the Japanese workplace, where miso soup can be made with lunch as easily as green tea and using the same water. Instant miso soup is available in many grocery stores outside of Japan. It has a shelf life of 3 to 12 months.

In 2003, researchers at Japan’s National Cancer Centre suggested that "Eating three or more bowls of the Japanese delicacy Miso soup every day could cut women's risk of developing breast cancer".

Pure miso paste nutritional information: Although very high in sodium (over 400% DV), one cup (275 g) of miso paste is an excellent source of dietary fiber (59%) and protein (64% DV), as well as a good source of minerals. Miso paste is also high in amino acids, the basic building blocks of protein. 

An excellent source of vitamin K and a decent source of riboflavin (38% DV), miso also provides small amounts of other vitamins. One major benefit of miso is its extremely high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content, although the balance is six times greater for omega-6 than omega-3.

The nutritional benefits of miso are incomplete on their own. When low-sodium miso paste is used in combination with ingredients such as tofu, dashi, scallions, katsuobushi (a common ingredient in stock dashi), and other vegetables, however, miso soup can provide a complete meal.

Miso Types by Ingredients

1. Rice Miso (Kome Miso 米味噌)  It is made from soybeans, salt, and rice koji (米麹), and the majority of miso sold here in the US and Japan is this type.

2. Barley Miso (Mugi Miso 麦味噌)  It is made from soybeans, salt, and barley koji (麦麹), and has a very dark color and quite salty but very rich taste. Barley miso is naturally fermented from one to three years. These days this type of miso is not as popular as before. It is used in southern parts of Japan. It’s used for seasoning rich soups, stews, beans, sauces and spreads.

3. Soybean Miso (Mame Miso 豆味噌)  Soybean miso is only made from soybean, salt, and the koji produced from soybeans. A special type of soybean miso is Hatcho Miso (八丁味噌). Hatcho miso has a distinctive soybean flavor and slightly sweet aroma.  Hatcho miso should be aged for at least 16 months and it is reddish-brown, somewhat chunky. It’s used to flavor soups and sauce.

 Miso Combinations

1. Red Miso (Aka Miso 赤味噌)   It is made from about 70% soybean and 30% rice or barley. The long fermentation period (about 1 to 1.5 years) produces darker colored, strong and salty miso.  It contains about 13% salt by volume. Red miso contains the highest levels of protein of all types of miso.
Recipe suggestions: stir-fries, miso soups, and stews or to make marinades for meat, chicken, and vegetables. 

2. White Miso (Shiro Miso 白味噌)   It is made from about 40% soybean and 60% rice or barley. It is a yellowish beige color and the fermentation period is shorter than for Red Miso. White Miso is slightly less salty and less robust in flavor than Red Miso. Of all miso varieties, the white miso contains the most carbohydrates and therefore tastes the sweetest and the texture is very smooth.
Recipe suggestions: light colored soups, salad dressings and marinades for fish.

3. Yellow Miso (Awase Miso 合わせ味噌)   It is a combination of Red Miso and White Miso and it’s all-purpose.
Recipe suggestions: almost everything, Miso chicken over steamed rice, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.