If you’re a Japanese food enthusiast, you might be familiar with their focus on umami, or the “fifth” taste. A very popular source of umami is miso. This is one of the most utilized ingredients in Japanese cuisine, and is the main ingredient for miso soup, a staple in most Japanese households and restaurants.1
But aside from miso soup’s flavor, it is also an impressive source of nutrients and probiotics. Continue reading this article to learn about the benefits you can get from it, and how you can make this soup at home.
What Is Miso Soup?
Miso, or fermented soybeans, is well-loved in Japanese cuisine because of its versatility. For hundreds of years, it’s been used to flavor sauces, marinades and dressings. However, its most popular use is in miso soup.2 But what is in miso soup? To put it simply, miso soup is the classic mixture of dashi — a soup base made with kelp or dried fish — and miso.3 This soup is extremely popular because of its hearty and comforting flavor, which may complement a variety of dishes.
Traditional miso soup recipes usually incorporate finely chopped spring onions and firm tofu — however, I recommend that you leave out the tofu to minimize possible exposure to lectins and other harmful materials that accompany unfermented soybeans.
While miso soup’s taste may be enough to make people love it, it is not the only thing to appreciate about it. Because of the fermentation process that miso goes through, the nutritional benefits of this soup are doubled. In fact, miso soup is loaded with numerous vitamins and minerals, together with its probiotic properties.4
Get These Miso Soup Benefits Today
Miso, on its own, offers nutrients like copper, manganese, protein and zinc. Additionally, it is also packed with numerous enzymes and probiotics because of the fermentation process.5 The health benefits you may get from miso soup include:
- Improved digestion. Miso’s probiotic properties play an important role in balancing gut microbiome, which is one of the most important components of health. Improved microbiome may help support proper digestion, nutrient absorption in the gut and energy regulation.6
- Better immune function. Studies show that probiotics may support the immune system by signaling immune pathways.7 The better balance of bacteria in your gut may also help combat common illnesses like the flu.8
- Support for cardiovascular health. While miso soup has been observed to contain high amounts of sodium, studies show that this soup does not cause problems in the cardiovascular system. In fact, regular consumption of miso soup may lower heart rate, which is one of the indicators of autonomic balance.9 However, more studies are required to prove this function.
These Miso Soup Nutrition Facts Are Worth Noting
Miso soup consists of numerous nutritious ingredients, with miso being the top component. With the combination of miso, dashi, leeks and seaweed, it comes as no surprise that miso soup can help nourish your body. To help you determine the amount of the nutrients you might need to get from other sources, here are the nutrition facts for miso soup:10
|Amt. Per |
|% Daily |
|Calories from Fat||1.2|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||1%|
|Trans Fat||0 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||0.7 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.2 g||1%|
|Vitamin A10%||Vitamin C||9%|
How to Make Miso Soup at Home
Miso soup is typically served in Japanese restaurants. The only problem is that you don’t have any control on the quality of the ingredients being used. The good news is you don’t have to settle for the restaurant variety as it is extremely easy to prepare. Cooking your miso soup at home will let you handpick the ingredients and control their quality and quantity. To help you, here is a recipe from AllRecipes:11
Miso Soup Recipe
• 4 cups of water
• 1/2 cup of bonito flakes
• 1 4-inch piece of dashi kombu (dried kelp)
• 1 teaspoon of dried wakame seaweed
• 3 tablespoons of miso paste
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
1. Pour water into a large pot and put it on low heat.
2. Add the kombu and cook until it starts to simmer.
3. Stir in the bonito flakes until combined.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
5. Strain the mixture. Set aside.
6. Heat 3 1/2 cups of the mixture (dashi) on medium heat. Add the wakame seaweed and stir until combined.
7. Put 1 cup of dashi in a small bowl and mix in the miso paste. Pour the mixture back into the pot. Stir until soup is warmed through.
8. Add the green onions as garnish. Serve.
Vegan? Fret Not — Try This Vegan Miso Soup Recipe
Dashi, the main soup base of miso soup, is made with bonito flakes. Bonito flakes are popular in Japan and are made with dried skipjack tuna. This means that dashi, and miso soup by default, is not vegan or vegetarian. So, if you’re vegan but you still want to enjoy a warm bowl of miso soup, here’s a vegan-friendly recipe from The Spruce instead:12
Vegan Miso Soup Recipe
• 4 cups water
• 1 tablespoon shredded nori or wakame seaweed
• 1/3 cup miso
• 3 green onions, chopped
• A dash of soy sauce
1. Let the water come to a slow simmer. Add the seaweed and let sit for 5 to 6 minutes.
2. Put it on low heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until the miso is fully dissolved. However, make sure that you don’t let the miso boil as this may destroy some of the nutrients it contains. Serve.
Miso Soup: A Tasty Way to Get Your Probiotic Fix
Improving your gut microbiome is one of the foolproof ways to start your journey to better health, and adding miso soup to your diet is one of the best strategies to do this. With its nutrient-packed ingredients and the ease in which you can make this soup, there’s virtually no excuse for you not to benefit from it. However, make sure that you eat miso soup together with other healthy foods to get a balanced amount of nutrients, so it’ll be easier for you to achieve optimal well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Miso Soup
Q: Is miso soup gluten-free?
A: It’s hard to determine whether you’re getting gluten-free miso soup, especially if you’re eating out, because of the difference in ingredients used. While most of the ingredients of miso soup are gluten-free, the grain used during the fermentation may contain gluten.13
If you’re gluten-sensitive and you want to enjoy miso soup without worrying, it’s best that you prepare it at home so you have complete control over the ingredients.
Q: Is miso soup vegan?
A: This depends on the ingredients used. Miso soup is commonly made with dashi as the soup base, which is made with bonito flakes or dried tuna. However, there are numerous vegan versions of miso soup, such as the recipe above, which means you don’t have to miss out on this delicious soup.14
Q: Is miso soup healthy?
A: Miso soup is made with a variety of healthy ingredients, which means that you get considerable levels of nutrients with every serving. The gut-nourishing probiotics in miso are also some of its most notable benefits.
Q: Is miso soup good for you?
A: Miso soup is filled with vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Each serving will both nourish you and give you a plethora of nutrients your body needs.
Q: How many calories are in miso soup?
A: A 100-gram serving of miso soup contains approximately 5.1 calories. However, note that this may vary from recipe to recipe, depending on the amount and the ingredients used.