Miso soup is a token component of traditional Japanese dining. This simple soup is a key element of many Japanese meals, particularly set meal combos (teishoku). Since around the 8th century (Heian Period, Japan), miso soup has been a recipe made and eaten by the Japanese. At that time, miso was originally only eaten by social elites or those who were very rich, but these days it’s consumed all over Japan as a very common side dish.

Miso soup included in teishyoku

Miso soup as gyudon side dish

Most every restaurant in Japan will serve miso soup alongside your meal’s main dish. An exception to this are internationally-themed restaurants, but if you go to any average, cheap and convenient Japanese restaurant in Osaka, such as Yoshinoya or Matsuya, you will be served a small bowl of miso soup as a side dish. Miso soup will have a cloudy appearance, and will often have pieces of seaweed and tofu floating inside. Though there are many variations of the dish, this will be the most common one that ends up in front of you. It is normal to eat pieces of food floating in your miso such as tofu or meat using your chopsticks. When drinking the soup, pick up the bowl with both hands and drink from it like a cup. You can also use your chopsticks to give the soup a little stir if the cloudy paste has begun to settle.

Miso soup with some chicken

A recipe for miso soup contains dashi stock and miso paste. Miso paste is made fermenting soybeans with salt alongside other ingredients such as rice, fungus or barley. By fermenting the soybeans with different ingredients, different flavours can be created using the paste. For a miso soup experience at home, you can easily purchase instant packets that require no recipe – you only need to add hot water.

Miso paste recipe beginnings

White miso paste, recipe beginnings

Alternatively, make your own and add all sorts of different things inside the recipe.


Classic Japanese Miso Soup recipe:

  • 3-4 Tbsp white Miso paste.
  • 2 escallops, diced.
  • 1 sheet dried seaweed (nori) cut into chunks.
  • Some fried tofu cut into thin strips about an inch long.(You can also use silken tofu, but pre-fried tofu is more common at Japanese restaurants.)
  • 4 cups water.
  • 1.5 Tbsp bottled Dashi stock.
  • You can also make your own dashi seasoning from scratch by boiling bonito (dried fish flakes) and kombu (dried kelp).

Cooking instructions:

1. Put the miso paste into a separate bowl with 3-4 Tbsp of hot water and mix until combined. It’s important not to cook the miso paste, as this will destroy the good bacteria and change the taste of the paste.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until both seaweed and fried tofu are soft. If you are using silken tofu for your recipe, don’t add it until the very end.

3. Separate the miso paste mixture into two small bowls.

4. Fill each bowl with the hot dashi/seaweed mixture, each with even amounts of tofu and scallops.

5. Garnish with a couple of more fried scallops. If you are using silken tofu for your recipe, add dice cubes to your miso soup now.

6. Serve warm.

Alix Smith

Alix Smith

Hi I'm Alix, I'm an Aussie who has fallen in love with Japan. I love learning languages and all about foreign culture. I was first attracted to Japan because of its rich history and fascinating traditions. But as you may notice from my contribution to this site, my real passion is cooking. I hope I can share my experiences here in Japan with you, and hopefully invoke a little bit of Japanese inspiration in your diet. Have fun reading!

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