Here's our recipe for Japan’s ubiquitous broth, miso soup, a dish that’s held in such high regard it’s claimed to be a gift from the gods.

What is it?

Japan’s favourite soup, made from fermented soybeans dissolved in a seaweed and fish-based dashi (stock), is love in liquid form to the nation. Warming, salty and soothing, it never fails to comfort.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tbs dried wakame seaweed 
350g (12oz) firm/soft tofu 
4 cups water 
1 (5g) sachet bonito dashi stock 
2 tbs miso paste 
1 spring onion (scallion), sliced

How to cook

Step 1: Rehydrate the wakame by placing it in a bowl of cold water.
Step 2: Chop the tofu into 1cm (½in) cubes
Step 3: Put the water and dashi stock in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil.
Step 4: Ladle a small amount of the stock into a bowl and add the miso paste, stirring it so that it does not go lumpy.
Step 5: Add the wakame and tofu to the stock in the saucepan.
Step 6: Take the stock off the heat before adding the dissolved miso (this helps retain the flavour of the miso and preserves its beneficial bacteria).
Step 7: Stir the soup to keep it smooth as you add the miso.
Step 8: Pour into bowls and top each with some slices of spring onion.

High-angle view of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing at night, with hundreds of people crowding the famous street crossing
Miso soup is served all over Japan, from rural villages to the bustling capital, Tokyo © Jonathan Stokes / Lonely Planet

Tasting notes

According to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift from the gods to ensure health, happiness and longevity. So it’s no surprise that it’s served at almost every meal from breakfast through to dinner, often arriving in its traditional lacquer bowl even when it hasn’t specifically been ordered. Slurping the salty solution from the edge of the bowl is encouraged whatever the setting, be it the privacy of your ryokan bedroom as you start your day with a resplendent Japanese breakfast platter, the sleek minimalist confines of a (fine-dining) restaurant or the local sushi bar. Swirl it around with your chopsticks to awaken the seaweed and tofu resting at the bottom. Flit between the soup and your other dishes as it’s polite and ensures you maximise the broth’s digestive benefits.

Other recipes in this series:
Sri Lankan kothu roti
Middle Eastern hummus
Italian tagliatelle al ragu

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Superfoods.

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