Vegan miso soup

Miso soup is a warm and comforting savoury dish which is eaten almost daily in Japan.

In the last decade Japanese cuisine has become more popular in the UK, with miso soup being one of the best known Japanese dishes here. Most of the time when you eat out in a Japanese restaurant miso soup will come as a free accompaniment with the main meal. Although even if it doesn’t it’s usually very cheap to order!

So if it’s cheap and easy to find, why even bother to make your own?

Sadly, whilst miso soup appears to be vegetarian this isn’t always the case. This is because most miso soups are made using the standard dashi (Japanese broth) which is not meat-free, and tends to be made from bonito flakes or fish powder.

On one occasion I was in an authentic Japanese restaurant near Old Street and ordered the vegetarian set menu which came with miso soup. I have very sensitive tastebuds and after the first mouthful I could tell that it wasn’t meat-free. I asked the waitress if she was sure the soup was vegetarian but she didn’t speak much English and just answered, “Yes, no meat, no meat…”. So then I asked, “Why bonito?” at which she got confused, ran into the kitchen to check with the chefs and then came back and answered, “Bonito, yes!” 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

I personally found this situation very stressful – I don’t want to be the crazy vegetarian that makes a big fuss over a little miso soup, but why?! Why would they include a fish soup in a vegetarian set menu?

I know that for some people that not eating meat is equivalent to being vegetarian, including my Mum! 🙈😅 I have caught her cooking stir-fried vegetables for me with both fish sauce and oyster sauce countless times, and I know she wasn’t doing it on purpose. Anyway, to avoid all the hassle I prefer to make my own miso soup which is simple, tasty and stress-free.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

For this miso soup, I’m using the cold brewed dashi, which requires overnight preparation. However, if you are in a rush you can also use a hot brew method which is much quicker. Check out the recipe here for more details and tips on how to make the best dashi.

To make dashi, the ratios you need of water, kombu and shiitake mushroom are 100:1:1. So, to make 700ml of dashi, you’ll need 700ml of water, 7g of kombu, and 7g of shiitake mushrooms.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Cut the kombu into strips approximately 4-5cm long as it helps to release the flavour better.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Cover the kombu and shiitake mushrooms in water in a large container and soak them overnight (at least 8 hours) or for the best results, 24 hours.

If you’re making kombu during the summer or you live in a hot region (over 25C or 77F), you should keep your cold brew in the refrigerator as it can get slimy very quickly in hot temperatures.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

There are a lot of different types of miso out there, but the most common ones are white, brown, and red.

Brown miso is the most common kind – it works well with soup, tofu, and seaweed. If you order a miso soup in a restaurant it will most likely have been made with brown miso.

White miso has a sweet and mild flavour – it contains less salt than other variations and has been fermented for a shorter time.

Red miso is a maturer version that has a stronger flavour due to its longer fermentation time. It’s rarely used for miso soup but is delicious when stir-fried or grilled.

For this recipe, you can use either white or brown miso depending on your preference. Personally, I prefer my miso soup to be mild and sweet so I mostly use white miso, but free to pick your favourite miso paste. Although I do suggest that you always use silken tofu for miso soup.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Start by getting all your ingredients ready: 1 tbsp of dried wakame seaweed, 1 finely chopped spring onion, and 100g of silken tofu cut into 1cm cubes…

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Trim the bottoms of a handful of shimeji brown mushrooms – you can also replace these with sliced chestnut mushroom if you can’t find shimeji mushrooms.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll now want to strain the dashi through a cheesecloth or fine mesh. I always squeeze the shiitake mushrooms to get out all the goodness. If you are using the hot brew method make sure you wear gloves before you do this as they’ll be pretty hot.

Once you’ve strained the dashi, don’t throw away the leftover kombu or mushrooms either. I usually freeze them to use in other dishes like kombu tsukudani or shiitake tsukudani – a small side dish that has been simmered in soy sauce and mirin to make a flavourful accompaniment to plain rice.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Pour the dashi into a saucepan and cook on a high heat until it starts to boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low.

Add the mushrooms, wakame seaweed, and tofu. Cover the lid and let it all simmer for 5 minutes.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

You will need 1 heaped tablespoon (or 2 flat tablespoons) of miso for a soup for 2. As I mentioned, different types and brands of miso vary in taste. If you don’t know your miso paste that well, I suggest only using 1 heaped tablespoon. If it’s not salty enough for you, you can always add a dash of light soy sauce at the end.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Put the miso paste into a small bowl, along with a couple of tablespoons of hot dashi from the saucepan. Mix well until the paste has fully dissolved.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

Once combined, pour the miso mixture back into the saucepan, keeping the heat low, and stir gently – the soup should now be on the verge of boiling.

Be careful and avoid boiling miso!!! It damages the aromatic flavours and affects its nutritional value. Overcooked miso can also turn bitter… This is why we only add it at the last stage of cooking with a gentle simmer.

Add the spring onion and simmer for 1 minute before serving.

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

With perfect little bites of tofu, mushroom, and seaweed in every mouthful, my Spanish King loves this miso soup sooooooo much and I hope you like it too.

Let me know if you try out this recipe. You can leave a comment below, or take a picture, tag it with #k33_kitchen and share it on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, hope you enjoy my recipes!

K33Kitchen vegan miso soup

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Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 2

Prep.: 5 mins | Cook: 15 mins

Ingredients:

Dashi

  • 700ml water
  • 7g kombu (dried kelp), cut into strips 4-5cm in length*
  • 7g dried shiitake mushrooms

Soup

  • 1 tbsp wakame seaweed
  • 100g silken tofu, finely diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 spring onion (top part), finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp miso paste**
  • Light soy sauce to taste**
  • Handful of shimeji brown mushrooms (about 70-100g), trimmed
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Instructions:
  1. Soak the kombu and shiitake mushrooms in 700mls of water in a large container overnight (8 hours) or, for the best result 24 hours.*
  2. Before you start to prepare your miso soup, strain the dashi through a cheesecloth or fine mesh.
  3. Pour the dashi into a saucepan and cook on a high heat until it starts to boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  4. Add the mushrooms, wakame seaweed, and tofu. Cover the lid and let it all simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Put the miso paste into a small bowl, along with a couple of tablespoons of hot dashi from the saucepan. Mix well until the paste has fully dissolved.
  6. Once combined, pour the miso mixture back into the saucepan, keeping the heat low, and stir gently – the soup should now be on the verge of boiling.
  7. Add the spring onion and simmer for 1 minute before serving.

*If you’re making kombu during the summer or you live in a hot region (over 25C or 77F), you should keep your cold brew in the refrigerator as kombu can get slimy very quickly in hot temperatures

** Taste before you serve, if it’s not salty enough you can always add a dash of light soy sauce at the end.

 

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