Instant Miso Soup is very convenient and commonly used in Japan. I use it quite often myself, especially during the week or when I am cooking just for myself. Nowadays, Instant Miso Soup is widely available outside of Japan. Today’s post is about choosing and how to use Instant Miso Soup – you can do better than just adding hot water!
I often make miso soup from scratch like that, especially when I have a large number of people to feed or I would like to spend time making a special miso soup. However, when I need it just for myself, or me and only a couple of my children, I often use instant miso soup.
I think it is quite alright to use instant miso soup so I thought I should explain the different types of instant miso soup and how to use them. So today’s post does not have a recipe. Sorry.
Instant Miso Soup Packs
Instant miso soup comes in one or two small sachet/packet per serving. You simply empty the contents into a soup bowl, add some boiling water as per the directions on the packet, and mix. That’s it. I find that it is very convenient to stock instant miso soups in your pantry, in case you run out of time or you simply can’t be bothered to make it from scratch.
There are many different kinds of instant miso soups, but basically you get the miso component with ingredients such as wakame (わかめ, edible seaweed) and vegetables. Depending on the brand, they come in different forms as well. The photo below shows the varieties of instant miso soups I happened to have. From left to right:
- Seasoned miso paste with wakame seaweed in a sachet, Marukome (マルコメ) brand. Pack of 12 sachets (1a) and single serving sachet (1b).
- Freeze-dried miso soup packets, Amano Foods (アマノフーズ) brand. Crab miso soup (2a), tofu miso soup (2b), and Nameko (なめこ, amber-brown mushroom with a gelatinous coating) miso soup (2c) – single serving each.
- Freeze-dried vegetables with seasoned miso paste, Nagatanien (永谷園) brand. A pack of 3 servings (3a), a sachet of seasoned miso paste (3b) with a packet of freeze-dried vegetables (3c) for single serving. You can see eggplants in the picture on the pack.
- Salt reduced version of freeze-dried vegetables with seasoned miso paste, Nagatanien (永谷園) brand. The inside of the pack is the same as 3 above with different vegetables – you can see pumpkins and okra in the picture on the pack.
Item 1 is the cheapest and the flavour is not as good as the other three in my view. Freeze-dried miso soup by Amano Foods is the most expensive, but I think the other two by Nagatanien (3 and 4) are as good.
I bought some of the above miso soup packs in Japan, so you may not be able to find them in your country. But similar ones, or more varieties of instant miso soups, should be available at Japanese grocery stores (see the first photo) and to a lesser extent at Asian grocery stores. In Australia, I saw instant miso soup similar to Marukome brand sold at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. Harris Farms also sells instant miso soups.
Inside the Instant Miso Soup Sachet
The photo below shows what it looks like before you add boiling water to the bowl. From top right, clockwise:
- Amano Foods tofu miso soup and the used sachet. You can see the freeze-dried tofu (white bits) and wakame seaweed (tiny black bits in the centre) among the dried miso cake.
- Amano Foods tofu miso soup after adding boiling water. Check out the Tofu and Wakame Miso Soup from my post Miso Soup Basics and compare. Pretty good for an instant miso soup.
- Nagatanien miso soup and the used miso and vegetable sachets. You can clearly see the dried vegetables – cabbage in this case. The brown paste is the miso.
- Marukome miso soup – it’s hard to see but there is fresh wakame seaweed mixed in the paste.
I must say though, handling only a dried cube like the one from Amano Foods is much easier than opening a sachet of miso paste and getting it out. It might just be me but I always get some miso paste stuck on my fingers when handling it. I just lick it off to clean my finger but it is kind of a nuisance.
Those freeze-dried vegetables are amazing. In the case of Amano Foods, even the soup itself is freeze-dried and comes with a mixture of miso and the vegetables as a cube. The quality of vegetables after they are rehydrated is unbelievably close to vegetables cooked from scratch.
How to Prepare Instant Miso Soup
As mentioned before, all you need to do is empty a sachet of miso paste and/or a freeze-dried cube into a soup bowl or a mug, then add about 160-180ml (5.4-6.1 oz) of boiling water to it. Mix well. In the case of the miso paste type, the miso paste tends to stay at the bottom of the bowl so make sure that you mix well before eating. In the case of freeze-dried vegetables, it will only take about 15 seconds for the vegetables to rehydrate. By the time you mix the soup, it will be ready to eat!
If you feel guilty about just adding hot water to serve miso soup, you can add more ingredients to it so that you feel like you made it. Here are some suggestions to make the instant miso soup more original.
- The easiest one is dried cut wakame seaweed. Wakame is cut into small pieces then dried. All you need is to drop a pinch of dried wakame seaweed before or even after adding hot water. You can buy dried wakame seaweed at Japanese/Asian grocery stores, sometimes even at supermarkets.
- The second easiest is to add fresh tofu. I would suggest that you cut the tofu into small cubes of say 1cm (3/8”), and add to the bowl. You don’t need to cook them. Do not add too many cold tofu pieces otherwise the temperature of the miso soup will drop.
- If you have only the seasoned miso paste like Marukome brand, you can boil chopped vegetables and place them into a bowl before adding the miso paste and hot water. This will turn an otherwise simple miso soup into a soup full of vegetables.