Translated by Greg
A Great Souvenir! Learn How To Make Instant Miso Soup
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
Loved by generations of Japanese people, miso soup is now popular outside of Japan as well. Today we'll introduce you to three different types of instant miso soup and explain how each variety is prepared.
Miso soup, a uniquely Japanese dish, is made with miso paste, which is made with fermented soybeans. Whether you go to a Japanese restaurant here or outside of Japan, you'll certainly be sure to see miso soup on the menu.
When referring to miso soup Japanese people often say that it's "ofukuro no aji", which means ‘home cooking just like mom used to make’. So it really is food close to the hearts of Japanese people.
However, trying to make miso soup while outside Japan can prove to be a daunting task. Not only is it challenging to find the necessary ingredients but knowing exactly how to make delicious miso soup can also entail lots of trial and error.
For those times we recommend instant miso soup since it only requires you to add hot water. This product is readily available at convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan, and it's easy to carry around with you and also keeps for a long time. Today we'll introduce you to instant miso soup which also happens to be perfect as a souvenir.
3 Types of Instant Miso Soup
Depending on your purpose, instant miso soup can be divided roughly into three separate varieties. The simple to make and easy to carry around Cup-Type, the Package-Type where the miso flavor really stands out, and the Freeze-Dried-Type which can be stored for a long time.
Essentially all three types are very delicious but require different methods of preparation.
With all the ingredients already inside the paper cup, this type is the easiest to make.
When you look in the cup you'll see two small packets inside. The smaller of the two packets has "miso paste flavoring" (調味みそ, "chomi miso") written on it. This is the seasoning for the miso soup. On the slightly larger packet the word "gu" (具) is written. This packet contains the ingredients for the miso soup.
Step 1. Put Ingredients into Cup
First, empty out the contents from both packets into the paper cup.
Step 2. Fill Cup with Hot Water
Next we'll add boiling water to the cup. If you look closely, you can see a thin line going around the inside of the paper cup. You should fill the cup with hot water up to this line. Just imagine instant cup ramen and you'll soon get the idea.
Step 3. Mix Hot Water and Ingredients
After adding boiling water, use chopsticks (or a fork, spoon) to mix everything well.
The miso paste will dissolve in the hot water, the ingredients will absorb the liquid and gradually this mixture will turn into miso soup. Also be sure to stir right to the bottom of the cup as well because the miso paste will sometimes clump together and settle there.
Step 4. It's Ready!
Once everything has been thoroughly mixed, it's ready to eat!
The wakame (seaweed variety) is so shiny and glossy you'd never think this was instant miso soup!
The package-type is a large bag containing all the ingredient packets. Inside this package there are multiple packets, so a single serving is reasonably priced making this one of its attractive features.
Also this type of instant miso soup often includes separate packets containing tofu, wakame and other ingredients. We recommend this type for people who would like to sample various types of miso soup.
This particular product that we purchased provides 12 individual servings. In the photo above, the three colored packets starting from the left are the ingredients and the thin packet on the right side is the miso paste. Similar to the cup-type, this miso soup is prepared by combining the ingredients and miso paste.
The packets are color-coded according to the ingredient inside. So starting from the left, we have negi (green onions), wakame (seaweed) and tofu. So you can choose the ingredients according to what you feel like eating on that day.
Step 1. Put Ingredients into Cup
This package-type doesn't come with a cup/container so it's different from the cup-type instant miso soup. You can use your own favorite soup mug or whatever you have available.
Put the miso paste and your ingredients of choice into the cup. Make sure to carefully squeeze the packet (see photo), so that all the miso paste comes out.
This is how it looks when everything has been added to the cup.
Step2. Gradually Add Hot Water
This type is different from the cup-type in that it's a little difficult knowing how much hot water you should add. On the package it says to add XX ml of hot water, so you can use that as a general guideline. Or if you would prefer, slowly add hot water, tasting as you go, until you get to the desired flavor.
Step 3. Stir the Ingredients Well
After adding the hot water, stir everything well as you would with the cup-type instant miso soup.
Step 4. It's All Ready!
It's time to eat! This package-type instant miso soup doesn't contain a cup/container so it's easy to carry around with you making it the ideal souvenir.
Freeze-dried instant miso soup comes with its ingredients separated into little individual packets. When you open the package, the miso and the ingredients have been freeze-dried into small square-shaped clumps and packaged individually like snack food packets.
Step 1. Put Miso and Ingredients into Cup
Put the clumps of miso and the ingredients into a cup like we did for the package-type instant miso soup.
Step 2. Add Hot Water and Mix
As we did with the first two types of instant miso soup, mix everything well after adding the hot water. With this particular type of instant miso soup, we need to make sure that the heat of the hot water spreads throughout the freeze-dried clumps of ingredients. So here we shouldn't rush the process, but wait until the hot water penetrates the mixture and the ingredients slowly start to expand in size.
Step 3. Time to Eat!
Once the freeze-dried ingredients have softened, the miso soup is ready to eat.
The attractive features of freeze-dried instant miso soup are that it's light and easy to carry around, and also the fact that it can be stored for long periods of time. For visitors to Japan who had miso soup during their visit here, this freeze-dried version will allow them to enjoy the taste of miso soup even after they have returned home.
Whether you simply want to enjoy miso soup without any fuss, or want to buy it for a souvenir, or want something to look forward to after returning home, it's so easy to choose the perfect type of instant miso soup to suit your needs!