All About Miso Soup – Your questions answered!

All About Miso Soup Blog

Miso soup is a staple in Japanese diets. It is estimated that approximately 75% of Japanese people enjoy miso soup daily. Perhaps one of the reasons for its popularity is its versatility. Miso soup is a basic dish that can become as complex as you want to make it (more on that later) or as simple as dissolving miso paste in hot water.

But where did this enduring dish come from?

Soybean fermentation originated in China and began to appear in Japanese cuisine in the 700s. Fermentation has long been used as a means of preserving food, but the fermentation of soybeans into miso paste not only helped the food remain edible, it also resulted in a savory, umami flavor that miso soup has since become known for.

Types of Miso

The main three types of miso are Shiro (White Miso), Shinshu (Yellow Miso), and Aka (Red Miso). These types are categorized by their color, taste, saltiness and aging duration. There are more types of miso paste and they all have their own unique flavor profile. Today we are going to cover the three main types and a couple of other options Miso Master offers.

  • White Miso (Shiro)

    This variety is lower in salt, mild and delicate in flavor, and aged for shorter periods of time. Mellow White or Sweet White Miso are the two varieties typically found in this category. Made from soy beans, rice, water and koji (rice that is fermented using Aspergillus oryzae).

    Because of the mild flavor these miso varieties are very adaptable and can be used in dressings, warm weather soups, sauces and as a dairy replacement or as a salt replacement in any recipe. Try adding Sweet White Miso to your next smoothie!

  • Yellow Miso (Shinshu)

    Yellow miso is the mature sibling to white miso. It is aged a bit longer and has a deeper color, stronger flavor and is slightly earthy. Often made from the same ingredients as white miso, but in different ratios. It can be used in much the same way as white miso. Do a simple taste test of the two and you will find the subtle differences.

  • Red Miso (Aka)

    Red miso paste is also made the same ingredients as white and yellow miso, but the soybean content is much higher. The higher content of soybeans requires a longer aging period to break down the soybeans in red miso. The result is an umami flavor bomb with a deep, rich red color.

    Red miso can be used in hearty soups, glazes, stews, and marinades – just to name a few.

  • Barley Miso

    Barley miso is similar to red miso with the main difference being that instead of soybeans and rice, it is made using soybeans and barley. The barley is inoculated with aspergillus spores to create barley koji. Aged longer like red miso, it has a deep color that is reddish brown with a bit more texture than the other types of miso. The flavor is very similar to red miso paste and can be used interchangeably.

  • Brown Rice Miso

    Brown rice miso is another miso that is aged a bit longer with a strong umami flavor. Just like barley miso it is made with the same ingredients as red miso. Brown rice miso made using brown rice instead of white rice that is used to make brown rice koji.

    Not a traditional Japanese style of miso, but here at Miso Master, we make it using the same traditional methods. The flavor of brown rice miso is by far the strongest of the long term aged miso types. It can be used in the same way as red or brown miso.

  • Chickpea Miso

    Chickpea miso is unique because it does not use any soybeans. Another type of miso that while not a traditional Japanese type of miso, we make it with same traditional methods using chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rice koji, water and salt. Aged for a shorter period of time with a light brown color and a slightly sweet, slightly salty, mild flavor. This type of miso is soy free so it is a great option for anyone needing or wanting to avoid soy.

    One of the most versatile types of miso it can be used in dips, sauces, dressing, soups and stews. Anywhere you might think of adding chickpeas or hummus, try using chickpea miso instead!


How to Make Miso Soup

There is no one right way to make miso soup. That’s what makes it so fun to experiment with. Follow the steps below to create your own unique umami experience.

  • Step 1. Pick your broth base.

    • Dashi: traditional fish-based broth used in traditional Japanese miso soup
    • Vegetable broth: great for versatility because it won’t add a strong flavor, also good for vegans or vegetarians
    • Water: excellent choice if you are making a soup with lots of other flavors, the added miso will create your broth
    • Tempeh Broth: try something new and find another way to use tempeh at
      the same time!


  • Step 2. Pick your miso paste.

    • Mellow white: great for a traditional miso soup, or a simple soup with mild flavors like a creamy cauliflower soup
    • Sweet White: lower in salt so might be the best choice if you are using other ingredients that are salty, slightly sweet so pairs nicely with sweet peas, peanut butter, or coconut milk
    • Chickpea: a soy free option for traditional miso soup, also good for simple soups, pairs nicely with a tomato, pumpkin, sweet potato or squash
    • Brown rice, Barley or Red: these three have very similar taste profiles and can be used in the same types of soups; any hearty flavors like a French onion, beef stew, Cajun, Latin , or anything spicy will stand up nicely with these deep, rich miso types


  • Step 3: Add more flavors.

    • Garlic or Ginger: these aromatics add a nice element to any broth, try using a puree and mixing it into your miso paste before dissolving it in water. Let it sit together for a little while and they create a nice flavor combination.
    • Vegetable puree: this is a great option for the base of your soup; try using tomato, pumpkin, butternut squash or even sweet potato.
    • Spices: don’t forget to add some spices; cinnamon, cardamom, oregano, basil, and the list goes on and on. Adding this to your miso paste along with garlic or ginger is another option to meld all these flavors together. these flavors together.
    • Mirepoix: this is a classic soup base consisting of onions, carrots and celery. You can also use shallots or any combination of these elements. If you are going to use them then you will want to saute these ingredients first with oil or a even a bit of your chosen broth and once they are soft (about 5 minutes at medium high heat) then add in your miso paste mixture with spices and aromatics, saute another minute or so and then add in your broth base and other ingredients.


Miso Soup Ingredients

There is really no limit to what you can add to miso soup. We have covered the traditional Japanese style of the soup, but don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment with other flavor or ingredients.

  • Some suggested additions:

    • Mushrooms (dried, fresh or ground powder)
    • Peppers (hot, sweet, dried)
    • Tofu (added raw at the end or on top after being baked, fried or sauteed)
    • Tempeh (crumbles, sliced and pan fried, braised, or made into meatless meatballs)
    • Vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, green onion, bell peppers, zucchini, crispy potatoes)
    • Noodles (udon, lomein, rice, soba)
    • Rice (white, brown, wild, jasmine, etc)


Using Miso for Soup

Traditionally, miso soup is made by adding miso paste to dashi stock , along with seaweed such as wakame, small cubes of tofu, and green onion or other vegetables. To use miso for soup, you’ll want to follow a couple of general tips:

    • Before adding the miso paste to your soup, dissolve it in a small bowl with a bit of your hot stock and stir until smooth. Add to the soup prior to serving.
    • Avoid bringing miso to a boil. Boiling miso can damage the beneficial bacteria that develop during fermentation.


Seaweed for Miso Soup

Wakame is the seaweed most often used in miso soup, but often Kombu is also used to create a briny flavor to the broth. Arame is a great option as well because it softens up and becomes like a thin noodle and does not have the briny flavor that some people dislike. Nori sheets or nori flakes are also a nice addition to top off your miso soup.

Is Miso Soup Healthy?

Miso soup is very healthy, however there are some considerations you may want to take into account when choosing your miso type. If you need to avoid gluten then barley miso will not be a good choice. If you want lower sodium then the sweet white or mellow white will be your best option.

    • Gluten Free Miso Soup

      All of the Miso Master miso types, except the barley miso are all certified gluten free. If you want to use noodles, then choose a wheat free, gluten free noodle like a rice noodle, zucchini or sweet potato noodles or try using arame or wakame instead!

    • Vegan Miso Soup

      Making your miso soup vegan is really easy! Don’t use the fish based version of dashi it's not vegan, but you can use this version which is vegan. Miso paste is made without any animal or animal by-products so it is vegan friendly.


Miso Soup Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin and Chickpea Miso Soup – Soy Free!

Vegan Pumpkin Chickpea Miso Soup Recipe
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Vegan Pumpkin Chickpea Miso Soup Recipe

Vegan Pumpkin & Chickpea Miso Soup

  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Total Time: 20 minute
  • Yield: 56 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This dish is a hearty fall meal made with the power of Chickpea Miso and Pumpkin!  We have adapted this recipe to be made in your instant pot or on the stove.  Either way this is a quick, delicious meal packed with flavor and great nutrition.  Serve with whole wheat Udon Noodles or brown rice Udon Noodles and complete the meal with some Vegan Tempeh Meatless Miso-balls for a complete meal.



6 cups vegetable or Tempeh Broth (click for the recipe)

1 cup of pureed pumpkin

5 tablespoon Chickpea Miso

2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 15.5 oz can chickpeas or garbanzo beans

1 cup frozen roasted corn or fresh corn kernals

1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

4 tablespoons chili powder


Vegan Sour Cream (optional)


Instant Pot:

  1. Heat 1 cup broth and add 5 tablespoons miso whisking until completely dissolved.
  2. Add miso broth and all other ingredients to Instant Pot
  3. Set valve to sealed and heat on high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. Natural release for 10 minutes.


  1. Add broth and miso paste to soup pot and heat to low boil, whisking to combine.
  2. Add all other ingredients to broth, except corn and spinach.  Simmer for 15 minutes covered.
  3. Add corn and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until spinach is wilted or warmed.
  5. Taste and adjust spices and salt to taste.
  6. Serve with bread, noodles or rice.  You can add vegan meatless meatballs and a dollop of vegan sour cream to make this a special meal.


Pro Tips:

  1. Soup is always better after sitting overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 – 30 minutes
  • Category: Soups

Keywords: Vegan, Miso Recipe, Miso Master Recipe, Soup, Miso Soup, Low fat recipe, Pumpkin Soup

The Best Vegan Caramelized Onion Miso Soup

Vegan Caramelized Onion Miso Soup Recipe
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Vegan Caramelized Onion Miso Soup Recipe

The Best Vegan Caramelized Onion Miso Soup

  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 56 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


The secret to creating this dish is the Miso Master Traditional Red Miso paste.  Caramelized onions create a unique, slightly sweet, deep caramel, umami flavor.  In a classic French Onion Soup the onions come together with beef broth, but our secret weapon is red miso paste which we use to create this deeply satisfying, rich, deep flavor.  This is one recipe you don’t want to pass up!  (Pictured with Roasted Mushrooms, Sweet Basil Carrots, Paprika Miso Potatoes, and a dollop of Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip)



Caramelized Miso Onions

2 1/2 tablespoons (50g) Miso Master Organic Mellow White or Sweet White Miso 

2 lbs Sweet White or Yellow Onions

23 Shallots

1 cup water

12 tablespoons Olive Oil

Miso Soup Base

6 cups filtered water

150g Miso Master Organic Traditional Red Miso 

1 tablespoon vegetable bullion base (concentrated)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons mushroom powder

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon sage

1/4 teaspoon thyme

fresh cracked pepper


  1. Set oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the caramelized miso onions by slicing the shallots & onions thin, do not chop them but slice them as thinly as possible.
  3. Place sliced shallots & onions in a large, deep oven safe soup pot and spread the out on the bottom of the pot.  
  4. Sprinkle olive oil on onion mix and toss to coat.  
  5. Heat 1 cup water and dissolve white miso paste (mellow or sweet) in water, whisking to combine.
  6. Pour miso broth over onion mixture and toss to coat.
  7. Cook onions (covered) for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip onions.  Your goal is to get them nice and browned on all sides.  Don’t worry of the pan starts to look a little “crusty” – that is a good thing!
  8. Continue to cook covered another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss again.
  9. While onions are cooking, make the broth by adding all the ingredients to a separate soup pot and bring it to a gentle boil then turn down to simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Whisk or stir to ensure all ingredients are well blended and that miso paste is dissolved.  Turn off heat and set aside until onions are finished caramelizing.
  10. Turn oven down to 400 and finish cooking uncovered until brown and soft (taste one to see if they are sweet and “caramel” tasting)
  11. Remove pot from oven and set up on the stove.
  12. Remove one cup of the broth and add it to the pan with the onions.  You are using this broth to deglaze the onion pan by scraping any cooked onion bits from the bottom of the pan.  This is where a good amount of the deep, rich flavor comes from in this soup.  
  13. Once all the sides and bottom of the onion pot are deglazed, add in the remaining broth and allow to simmer to incorporate the flavors about 10-15 minutes.
  14. Taste the broth while simmering.  If the broth is not deep enough in flavor or too thin; continue to simmer and don’t adjust the spices.  Once it is the right texture and flavor depth, taste and adjust the spices.
  15. For the best results with any soup allow it to sit refrigerated overnight to develop full flavor.
  16. Serve with a crust of bread or make it a meal by adding roasted veggies, vegan sour cream or vegan french onion dip.



Pro Tip:

  1. Soup is always better if it sits overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Don’t over spice your soup while cooking, it’s easy to do.  Taste it the next day and then adjust.
  3. Don’t rush the caramelizing of the onions, it is worth the effort!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Soups

Keywords: Vegan Recipe, Vegan French Onion Soup, French Onion Soup, Miso Master Recipe, Red Miso, Miso Soup Recipe

15 Minute, 2 Ingredient Vegan Tempeh Broth

2 Ingredient Tempeh Stock
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2 Ingredient Vegan Tempeh Broth

  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Total Time: 20 minute
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a way to use tempeh to make a broth base for soups or other uses.  Keep the leftover tempeh to make some tempeh “meatballs”, tempeh burgers, tacos, or crumbles.  Check out our recipe for Vegan Tempeh Meatless Miso-balls!



6 cups filtered water

16 oz Tempeh


  1. Put water into a soup pot and crumble tempeh into the pot.
  2. Turn up the heat and bring to a low boil.
  3. Reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Strain to remove tempeh and use broth for anything you like!
  5. Save the tempeh for other great recipes.



Pro Tip:

Can be frozen in an ice cube tray and used when needed.


  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Category: Soups

Keywords: Tempeh, Vegetable Broth, Vegan, Easy Recipe

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