I make this easy miso soup ALL THE TIME. Seriously. I can eat this soup two times a day for multiple days in a row. It’s satisfying and easy when I want a light meal full of easy-to-digest protein, and importantly, when I’m down with a cold.
It’s simple and perfect. Why? You rely almost entirely on your pantry. And you don’t have to buy expensive katsuobushi flakes to do it. Hear me out.
Some Key Pantry Items
Let’s start by introducing a few new items into your routine pantry maintenance! All you have to do is throw the following ingredients into a pot.
These are items that I always have on hand—largely due to this recipe! Starred ingredients shouldn’t be omitted:
- Miso paste* – My favorite is Yamabuki Shiro Miso.
- Hondashi bonito soup stock powder* – It’s basically shortcut Katsuobushi, a little miracle powder that doesn’t take much at all to pack a flavor punch. For this large pot of soup, ½ teaspoon is plenty!
- Chicken bouillon paste* – We use Better Than Bouillon paste, because it’s flavorful and not too salty. You can omit it if you start with a base of chicken broth instead of water.
- Dried wakame seaweed* – More on this later, but it adds that quintessential restaurant taste and texture.
- Silken tofu* – You can put in as much or as little as you like, but I add quite a bit to make this soup the main event.
- Eggs – Optional, but a delicious addition. 9 times out of 10, I make this as an egg drop miso soup, and it’s so comforting and satisfying.
- Scallions – Mine usually come straight out of the freezer, only included when I was really on my game two months ago and had the wherewithal to freeze some. As you can imagine, I’ve made this successfully with and without scallions.
(You could replace items #2 & #3 with mushroom powder to taste to make this vegan/vegetarian OR just make this with our Asian vegetable stock + miso paste.)
I know that this doesn’t seem easy off the bat, as these aren’t all run of the mill ingredients. However, once you have them stocked in your fridge and pantry, all you have to do is throw it all into a pot.
The Ultimate Recipe to Make It Through Cold and Flu Season
This miso soup, with its liberal amounts of wakame (the same kind of seaweed floating around in sushi restaurant miso soup) provides a great health kick, in just 10-15 minutes! Studies have explored the antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects of seaweed.
Now, I’m no doctor or scientist, but anecdotally, I feel like this seaweed miso soup has pulled me back from the brink MANY times over the past three years. If I ever feel a cold coming on, I whip up a pot of this soup, eat it for breakfast for a week, and keep my fingers crossed. It hasn’t failed me yet!!!
Translation: this recipe is my panic-button Emergen-C, but tastier and more nutritious!
What’s more, if you already are sick, a great soup to nurse a cold often takes many hours to make. Convenient canned or boxed soups are often chunky, heavy, and full of sodium and strong flavors that you’re just not in the mood for.
POV: You’ve called in sick. Your fridge is virtually empty. You’re hungry. You know that the chicken noodle soup you’re craving is completely out of the question to make yourself and a pint that you could order will either be A) too salty, B) take too long, C) be crazy expensive, or D) you won’t make the order minimum without ordering four or five containers of soup.
Nuff said. Ya’ll need this recipe.
Another Edition of Lazy Girl Cooking with Kaitlin!
As the resident lazy cook around here, there are certain recipes I’ve perfected over the years for my I’m-alone-but-I’m-hungry-and-don’t-feel-like-ordering-out moods, which strike frequently and with a voracity that cannot be stopped until I’ve had a good night’s sleep, i.e. with the promise of a better tomorrow.
Sarah’s Japanese superfood miso soup goes the traditional route, actually making a stock of bonito flakes and shiitake mushrooms, but if I’m being honest, that’s a little too much work for me—i.e., for one person! (But if you’re interested in that recipe, it’s definitely worth checking out.)
This soup is also incredibly forgiving. You can be as neat or as messy as you want. For example, I sometimes cut my tofu into perfect tiny cubes, so I can feel like I’m at a Japanese restaurant.
Sometimes I cut it into bigger cubes because I want it to have a heartier texture. And other times, I will be an animal and just use a spoon to scoop chunks into the pot until the tofu carton is empty. Korean American author Eric Kim likes to leave his tofu in giant chunks, similar to soondubu jigae.
In terms of cooking time, this soup comes together so fast that almost all the simmering time needed is only the time it takes for you to get your act together prepping the other ingredients. It takes just 10 minutes to imbue the tofu with the flavor of the broth and to rehydrate the seaweed.
Let’s make it together, so you can see exactly how easy it is.
Add noodles for a delicious noodle soup. A little chili oil is great in it as well!
Add the water to a medium pot, cover, and set over high heat. Meanwhile, gather your ingredients. Add the Hondashi powder, chicken bouillon paste, and miso paste to the pot. Let simmer so the miso paste and bouillon paste dissolve.
Preserving the nutrients in miso
If you want to preserve the full spectrum of nutrients in the miso paste, it’s best not to let miso paste boil. This is something I learned from our friend Nami at Just One Cookbook! Here’s what she says:
“Never boil miso soup once miso is added because it loses nutrients, flavors, and aromas. If you turn off the heat right before boiling, this temperature (203ºF/95ºC) is considered the most fragrant stage for miso soup. And by the time you are ready to enjoy the soup, it is an ideal temperature (167ºF/75ºC) for drinking.”
But we love a piping hot soup, so we admittedly sometimes sacrifice a little bit of strictness on heating in the name of having a extra comforting bowl of hot soup that won’t get cold too quickly after you serve it. You can do whatever you prefer!
While the broth cooks, cut your tofu into cubes. (½-inch/1cm cubes are a good place to start, but cut them however you like!)
Give the broth a stir to make sure the miso is evenly distributed. Add the tofu, and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
While that’s happening, chop the scallions. (If you’re like us, and you have some already chopped and frozen, you can skip this step.) Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the seaweed.
With the soup at a low simmer, pour in the egg in a circular pattern. Don’t stir the soup, and don’t let it come up to a high simmer/boil.
Add the scallions, and give everything a stir.
You want that fresh scallion taste when you serve this soup so if you’re making this ahead, don’t add the scallions until you’re ready to serve.
Easy Miso Soup
- 8 cups water
- 4 tablespoons white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon paste (we use Better Than Bouillon—if you use something else, be mindful of salt levels and adjust accordingly)
- 1/2 teaspoon dashi powder (we use Ajinomoto Hon Dashi granules)
- 12-16 ounces silken tofu (the exact amount doesn’t matter—basically 1 package of silken tofu; typically, shelf stable boxes are 12 ounces, and refrigerated boxes are 16 ounces)
- 1 scallion
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons dried wakame seaweed
- Add the water to a medium pot, cover, and set over high heat. Meanwhile, gather your ingredients. Add the miso paste, chicken bouillon paste, and Hondashi powder to the pot. Bring to a boil.
- While the broth cooks, cut your tofu into cubes. (½-inch/1cm cubes are a good place to start, but cut them however you like!)
- Give the broth a stir to make sure the miso is evenly distributed. Add the tofu, and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
- While that’s happening, chop the scallions. (If you’re like us, and you have some already chopped and frozen, you can skip this step.) Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the wakame seaweed.
- With the soup at a low simmer, pour in the egg in a circular pattern. Don’t stir the soup, and don’t let it come up to a high simmer/boil. Add the scallions, give everything a stir, and serve!