December 31, 2008

There’s something so nourishing about miso soup. Mineral-rich seaweed and miso broth are nourishing, soothing and tasty. I used to spend a lot of money paying for miso soup in Japanese restaurants — that is, until I learned to make it myself. This recipe is fast, easy and cheap.

The ingredients are easy to come by in an Asian market of any good supermarket with an Asian food section. All you need is miso soup, tofu, dried wakame (a type of seaweed). Each ingredient costs less than two bucks per package. Dried seaweed keeps forever. And if you refrigerate miso in a sealed container, it lasts for months.

From left to right: “white” miso paste, tofu, a bottle of bonito granules, package of dried wakame seaweed

There are different kinds of miso, ranging in color from tan to dark reddish-brown. They each taste different too. I prefer the tan-colored paste which, for some reason, is usually labeled as a “white” miso. And yes, there are organic versions of it around.

The secret to a true miso soup is the flavor or bonito, a type of fish. Purists use dried bonito flakes, boil it in water to make a broth that has to be simmered, strained — all way too complicated and time-consuming for me. A short-cut solution is to buy a packet of dried bonito flavoring, which amounts to a lot of salt and usually, some MSG.

Frankly, I don’t even bother with bonito. And nobody EVER complains. Another plus: Without the bonito, this dish becomes both vegan and vegetarian.

Here’s my recipe:


Betty’s Basic Miso Soup



  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup miso paste
  • 1 Tablespoon dried wakame seaweed
  • about ¼ of a 14-ounce package of tofu
  • chopped scallions (optional, for garnish)
  • a sprinkle of instant Hon-dashi bonito granules to taste (totally optional)


  1. Put miso paste in pot.
  2. Slowly add ¼ cup of the water, whisking with a fork until miso paste is smooth.
  3. Gradually add in remaining water, whisking with fork to create a smooth consistency.
  4. Rinse wakame and toss into the pot.
  5. Chop tofu into little squares and toss into the post.
  6. Bring the whole pot to a boil. Once it bubbles, remove pot from flame.
  7. Sprinkle in scallions, to taste. You can add the bonito granules too (optional).
  8. Serve right away!

P.S. — Like all my recipes, this one is very flexible and forgiving. Adjust ingredients to suit your tastes.

Close-up of re-hydrated seaweed floating with tofu in miso soup!