Great Eastern Sun Blog Post: What is Miso Soup?

What is Miso Soup 

Miso soup has been a staple in the Japanese diet for centuries. In fact, it is considered an integral part of a balanced Japanese meal. According to Japan Centre, it is believed that over 75% of the people in Japan eat miso soup daily. 

This delicious compliment to any meal (or a meal in itself), may be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

What is in Miso Soup? 

Miso soup can be as simple as dissolving a bit of miso paste in hot water. The result is a deliciously savory broth that is comforting, super-simple, and quick. It can be consumed just as is or is easily customized by adding a little green onion or chopped shiitake mushrooms or veggies.

If you’re looking to make a more traditional miso soup, you’ll want to use dashi broth in place of the water for additional flavor. 

The base of traditional miso soup is dashi broth, a light soup stock that can be prepared in about 10 minutes with water, kombu seaweed, and bonito flakes (optional). Miso paste is then added to the hot dashi broth and dissolved. What else you put in your miso soup is entirely up to you. Common additions include wakame seaweed, green onion, tofu, and mushrooms. 

If you don’t have dashi stock, you can still enjoy a warm cup of miso soup by simply dissolving the miso paste in hot water and adding the ingredients of your choice. 

What is Miso Paste?

Miso paste is a fermented ingredient used to make miso soup as well as marinades, salad dressings, dips, glazes, desserts and much more. Miso paste comes in many varieties that range in color and flavor depending on the ingredients used and the length of time the paste has been allowed to ferment. Like most aged foods, the longer it ferments, the stronger the flavor.

The most common miso paste is created by mixing soybeans with salt and koji. Koji is cooked rice that has been inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae, a type of fungus that releases enzymes to start the fermentation process. The miso is then aged for a period of time, typically 15-30 days for short-term miso varieties and 1 or more years for long-term varieties. This aging process allows the fermentation process to take place and the desired flavors to develop.

Miso paste is not always made with soybeans, however. In fact, Miso Master Organic Miso comes in six non-GMO, Kosher varieties, five of which are certified gluten-free, and one of which is soy-free, allowing you to experiment with the flavor of your miso soup:

Mellow White Miso  – short-term miso, mild flavor, gluten-free

Sweet White Miso – short-term miso, mild flavor, gluten-free

Chickpea Miso – short-term miso, mild flavor, gluten-free, soy-free

Traditional Red Miso – long-term miso, stronger flavor, great for traditional miso soup, gluten-free

Brown Rice Miso – long-term miso, stronger flavor, gluten-free

Country Barley Miso – long-term miso, stronger flavor

Is Miso Soup Healthy?

According to Healthline, miso is “…incredibly nutritious and linked to a variety of health benefits, including better digestion and a stronger immune system.” While there isn’t a lot of research on miso specifically, it is a fermented food, believed by some to have health benefits. More importantly, all Miso Master Organic Miso is organic and handcrafted from natural ingredients. So regardless of the health benefits, you’ll know you’re putting something clean in your body when you use Miso Master miso. 

In addition, you can add healthy foods to your miso, for example, wakame seaweed is a nutritious sea vegetable and most miso soup contains tofu, which is an excellent source of protein. 

Is Miso Soup Gluten Free? 

If you’re a home chef looking for delicious, nutritious, gluten-free options then miso soup is definitely for you. Five varieties of Miso Master Organic Miso are gluten-free, meaning you can make a delicious bowl of miso soup at home.

However, because miso soup is so versatile and can contain everything from tofu, to mushrooms, to noodles, you’ll want to check your other ingredients to ensure the whole dish is gluten-free if you’re dining out.

Is Miso Soup Vegan? 

Miso Soup may or may not be vegan, depending on what ingredients are used. Some restaurants (and even some miso manufacturers) will add fish sauce or fish flakes to the soup or miso paste. All varieties of Miso Master Organic Miso are vegan and can be used to make delicious soups, dressings, dips, marinades, etc.

Miso Soup Recipes

Miso soup has countless variations to explore. Here are some of our favorite miso soup recipes to get you started.