If you're a fan of miso soup but also follow a 100% plant-based diet, you'll be happy to know that you can make vegan miso soup without compromising on taste with just a few ingredients.
What is miso soup?
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made with a stock called "dashi" and miso paste. It often contains other ingredients, such as tofu, seaweed, and scallions.
Miso soup is typically served as a side dish with rice and other Japanese dishes and is considered a staple of Japanese cuisine. It is known for its umami flavor and is a popular and healthy breakfast option in Japan.
Is miso soup vegan?
Traditional miso soup typically uses dashi, a Japanese broth made with kombu and/or katsuodried (fermented and smoked skipjack tuna), so it's not vegan. However, I use kombu, vegetable broth, and shiitake mushrooms for a vegan version to make an equally delicious miso soup.
As stated, miso soup typically consists of miso paste dissolved in a broth made from dashi, a Japanese stock usually made from fish and kelp. A small amount of seaweed and perhaps some green onions might be added, so miso soup can be simple, a minimalist in the food world.
My version offers a more substantial dish that can be enjoyed as a complete meal rather than just a side dish or appetizer. For a simpler soup, you can choose to add fewer vegetables and adjust the portion size according to your preference. Feel free to experiment and customize based on your taste!
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans and other grains such as barley, rice, or wheat. The soybeans and grains are mixed with salt and a koji fungus, which helps ferment the mixture over several months to several years.
Different types of miso paste are available, and the best one for miso soup will depend on personal preference and the flavor profile you want to achieve.
However, the most commonly used miso paste for soup is white miso paste, also known as shiro miso.
You can find miso paste in the refrigerated section of most major grocery stores or at Asian markets. I have also seen shelf-stable miso in the Asian aisle.
While it may seem like an ingredient you will rarely use, it is cost-effective, remarkably nutritious, and can be used for various dishes like salad dressings, marinades, and other Asian-inspired meals. You will also want this soup on your regular soup menu.
While silken tofu is a common addition to miso soup, you can use other types of tofu or skip the tofu altogether. Firm or extra-firm tofu can be cubed and added to miso soup for a firmer texture.
Kombu (also known as Konbu)
You may be wondering, "What on earth is kombu?" Well, in the picture above, it's the small black sheet that resembles paper.
Kombu is a type of edible kelp commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is a key ingredient in many dishes, including dashi (a Japanese soup stock used in traditional miso soup), salads, and pickles.
Kombu is known for its rich, savory flavor and delicious umami taste. It is also valued for its health benefits. It's high in iodine, which is important for thyroid function, as well as other minerals and vitamins.
If you can't find kombu at the store like Whole Foods, you can find it on Amazon. Alternatively, substitute with half a sheet of nori found at all major grocery chains.
Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy
These are optional ingredients, but I love adding them to this soup. Add as much as you like or substitute with greens like spinach, kale, or your favorite mushrooms.
I use a concentrated veggie broth because I think it has the best flavor for this soup, and I can control how much flavor I want to add. However, feel free to use your favorite veggie stock for this recipe.
Look at how easy it is to make miso soup with the pictures below. If you enjoy looking at cooking images, here's a quick breakdown.
In a pot, add 4 cups of veggie broth and the kombu. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the kombu.
Add the shiitake mushrooms and tofu. Let it simmer for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
Add the bok choy to the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the bok choy is wilted.
Whisk together the miso paste and ½ - 1 cup of the hot broth in a small bowl until smooth.
Add the miso mixture to the pot and stir gently until the soup combines.
Stir well. The broth will be cloudy.
Add the sliced green onions to the soup and stir to combine.
Serve hot, and enjoy your delicious homemade miso soup!
Avoid boiling the soup once the miso is added. This can make the miso taste bitter and kill these beneficial bacteria, reducing the health benefits of the miso.
It's worth noting that miso soup should be consumed in moderation due to its high sodium content. However, incorporating it into a balanced diet can provide numerous health benefits. See below for the benefits of miso soup.
More tips for making the perfect soup
Use quality ingredients: Choose high-quality vegetable broth for the best flavor. Using fresh ingredients will make a significant difference in the taste of the soup.
Adjust the miso paste to your taste: The miso paste used can be adjusted to your preference. If you prefer a milder flavor, use less miso paste; if you prefer a stronger flavor, use more.
Garnish with fresh herbs: Top the soup with cilantro, parsley, or more green onions to add flavor and freshness.
Store the miso paste in the refrigerator in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other odors. Use a clean spoon each time you scoop out the paste to avoid contaminating it.
- As a starter: Serve miso soup as a light and flavorful starter before a Japanese meal. Pair it with sushi, sashimi, or tempura for a complete Japanese dining experience.
- As a main course: Add ingredients such as udon noodles, shrimp, or chicken to make the soup more substantial and turn it into a main course. This is a great option for a healthy and satisfying lunch or dinner.
- As a side dish: Serve miso soup as a side dish with other Japanese dishes such as sushi, vegetable tempura, or rice.
These variations use the same comforting umami-rich base from the recipe but with options to suit your tastes.
- Mushroom Medley Miso Soup: Use a mix of shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms.
- Spinach and Tofu Miso Soup: Baby spinach and smoked tofu cubes make for a simple yet nutrient-packed miso soup.
- Miso and Noodle Soup: Add rice noodles or soba for a more filling meal. Just make sure the noodles you pick are vegan-friendly.
- Spicy Miso Soup: Incorporate a bit of minced ginger and chili flakes or even a dollop of vegan-friendly chili paste to add some heat.
- Seasonal Vegetable Miso Soup: Use whatever vegetables are in season. Think asparagus in spring, corn in summer, and pumpkin chunks in the fall.
- Garlic and Herb Miso Soup: Some minced garlic and a handful of your favorite herbs like basil or parsley can bring another layer of flavor. Miso is already salty, so go easy on any additional salt.
The Benefits of Miso Soup
Any post about miso soup would be incomplete without mentioning its incredible benefits. Not only is it delicious, but it also boasts a wide array of health advantages.
- Rich in nutrients: Miso soup contains essential nutrients such as vitamins B, E, and K, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.
- Supports digestive health: The fermentation process used to make miso paste results in the growth of beneficial bacteria, which can improve gut health and digestion.
- Boosts immune system: Miso paste contains compounds called isoflavones, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can strengthen the immune system.
- May reduce the risk of certain diseases: Some studies have suggested that consuming miso soup may help lower the risk of certain conditions such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.
- Promotes weight loss: Miso soup is low in calories and high in protein, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied, leading to a reduction in overall calorie intake.
Miso soup can last in the fridge for 3-4 days if stored properly in an airtight container. Reheat the soup gently on the stovetop. Boiling can destroy the beneficial bacteria in the miso paste.
Miso soup should not be frozen. Its texture and flavor may be affected. The tofu and vegetables may become mushy after thawing, and the miso paste may lose some flavor. Consuming miso soup within a few days of making it is best.
Miso paste is typically gluten-free, but some brands may contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross-contamination during manufacturing. Check the label to ensure that the miso paste is gluten-free.
- 8 cups veggie broth (or vegan dashi (see post))
- 2 pieces kombu (substitute with ½ a nori sheet)
- 12 ounces silken tofu (1 box)
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (sliced; ~100g)
- 1 cup baby bok choy (or bok choy or other green; rinsed and chopped ~50g)
- ¼-½ cup green onions (scallions) (thinly sliced ~20-40 g)
- 8 tablespoons miso paste (white (see post for more info))
- boil In a pot, add 8 cups of veggie broth and the kombu. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- add Remove the kombu from the pot and add the shiitake mushrooms and tofu. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
- add Add the bok choy to the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the bok choy is wilted.
- mix In a small bowl, whisk together the miso paste and ½ - 1 cup of the hot broth until smooth.
- add Add the miso mixture to the pot and stir gently until the soup is well combined. Avoid boiling the soup once the miso is added, as this can make the miso taste bitter.
- finish Add the sliced green onions to the soup and stir to combine.
- serve Serve hot and enjoy your delicious homemade miso soup!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: appetizer, dinner, lunch, soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 144
- Sugar: 8
- Sodium: 2854
- Fat: 4
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Carbohydrates: 20
- Fiber: 3
- Protein: 9
- Cholesterol: 8.5 mg
Keywords: quick soup recipe, vegan miso soup, vegan soup