Miso Soup

02020-08-21 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

Miso soup was the first soup I enjoyed. No matter which soup my mom made, I never loved it. Pea soup with hambone, lentil soup with onions, minestrone, chicken-noodle soup, white bean soup with greens… my dad would rub his hands in anticipation when a soup was carried to the table. He truly loved them all, and I only ate them because I had to.

The very first time I had miso soup I loved it. Such clean flavor, so few ingredients, light, meatless. I was a vegetarian when I first tasted miso soup, maybe that had something to do with it. No, perhaps not.

I rarely ever ate in a Japanese restaurant without having miso soup first. That’s another thing about Japanese cooking. Great portions… what I mean by that is, the portions are never too large… unlike in German restaurants or even more so in American restaurants, Japanese places seem to offer plates that leave me feeling great.

I would love to do a miso journey through Japan… to find out how soybeans become a paste, how they are fermented and how they turn into miso. Perhaps I could walk from one place to the next. In my mind miso is created by artisans, but that could be a very false and overly romantic notion. I imagine wooden vats, which contain a potent smelling brew of fermenting soy, inside a wooden shed. I imagine men with white headbands who are using huge wooden implements to turn the soy over. I might even imagine the soundtrack that accompanies these actions – a mix of koto, the Japanese zither, with synthesizers…. like a Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack.

I am walking through the store. In my cart are green onions and two packages of tofu. I stand in front of the refrigerator that holds containers of miso and am trying to decide… red miso, white miso, mellow miso… I might boil some udon to go into the soup. That’s is not traditional, but it will taste good.

(I found this little piece from 2018 in a folder this afternoon)


  1. Shin

    Add a little bit of wakame seaweed when you make miso soup next time. It takes miso soup to a different level in its texture and taste.

  2. Rusty Knorr

    There is a 4 part cooking series called “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” and the Salt episode has a fascinating journey to Japan to explore traditional Miso paste preparation. It is artisanal indeed. Well worth a watch if you are interested.

  3. Alison

    Your imagery is spot on. You should watch NHK World Japan. They often have programs where they will feature 100-year-old miso businesses. NHK is fascinating. I planned my entire trip to Japan last year around NHK programming. I live in the Chicago area and get it as free antenna TV, channel 56-2. I have just about every streaming service plus Comcast, yet my TV is almost always on NHK.

    Here’s one on miso…


  4. Y.

    I love making soups and miso shiru is among those to be enjoyed. Miso flavors can be enjoyed in so many foods.

    This is probably a favorite post in your blog.

  5. Boris

    Just wondering whether the word “Suppenkasper” exists in other languages. Well, as a good German I love all kind of soups. Not all soups, probably. Not with hambone. But white bean soup, lentil soup (German or Turkish version), Grieskloesschensuppe, Leberspaetzlesuppe, Pfannkuchensuppe (Flaedle!), und und und. Just to drop a few names. Miso soup is great, as is the Vietnamese Pho, the Russian Borschtsch … you got me here, obviously :-)


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