Miso soup is a Japanese staple, a simple yet healthy broth that’s served alongside classic Japanese meals, be it ramen, sushi, or katsu curry. But many people ask if miso soup is vegan.
The answer to that question lies in the stock because traditionally, a miso soup is prepared using a fish-based stock known as dashi.
These days, however, it’s easy to prepare a miso soup with a stock that’s veggie- and vegan-friendly.
In this article, we take a look at the ingredients that are found in miso soup and explain how you can easily make your own vegan miso soup at home.
What is miso soup?
- Miso soup is one of Japanese cuisine’s most popular soups or broths.
- It’s a simple dish and one that is ordinarily served as an accompaniment to other main dishes.
- It’s surprisingly hearty, it’s warm, and it’s associated with being revitalizing and energizing.
But what is in miso soup?
- The Japanese broth takes its name from one of the soup’s primary ingredients, miso.
- A miso paste, which is soy-based, is mixed with stock to form the basis of the soup.
- This stock is traditionally dashi, which is made from a combination of kelp, anchovies, tuna, and other fishy products.
- The miso soup base is left to simmer, alongside other ingredients, including wakame (seaweed), tofu, scallions, soy sauce, and many more.
- The exact recipe depends on the chef, the region, and the seasonal ingredients that are available.
Miso soup can be prepared to serve alongside rice or noodles, but more commonly, it’s served as an appetizer or side dish in small bowls.
Is miso soup vegan?
The traditional way to prepare miso soup is with a dashi broth. As we already mentioned, dashi is a type of soup stock that’s made from different types of fish.
The exact composition of dashi stocks vary, but you can be certain that some form of fish, be it dried tuna or anchovies, will form the base.
For this reason, a traditional miso soup that’s made with a dashi base isn’t vegan.
However, as dashi is the only non-vegan ingredient that’s found in traditional miso soup, it’s quite easy to prepare a vegan-friendly miso soup. In fact, with more and more restaurants catering to veggie and vegan lifestyles, it’s likely that the miso soup on the menu at your local ramen outlet is going to be vegan-friendly already (always check first, of course!).
Vegan miso soup ingredients
So what goes into a vegan miso soup?
- Instead of using a dashi base, miso soup can be prepared using a type of dried seaweed known as wakame and a liberal addition of soy sauce or tamari sauce. This gives it that slightly fishy taste, without using any fish (seaweed is vegan, of course).
- The main ingredient, the miso paste, is already vegan. Vegan miso paste is made from soybeans, which are combined with salt and koji. The koji is a type of mold which is used in Japanese cooking to ferment soybeans.
- With a base of wakame, soy sauce, and miso, you have your vegan miso soup broth. The broth can then be supplemented with a huge range of other ingredients. In our recipe below, we keep it simple by only adding tofu and scallions, but miso soup can be prepared with mushrooms, beansprouts, and any other light vegetables you enjoy.
Let’s take a look at a simple vegan miso soup recipe that you can easily prepare in under half an hour from the comfort of your home kitchen.
How to make vegan miso soup
Makes 2 servings of vegan miso soup
- 5 c of water
- 10 oz of soft tofu*
- 3 tbsp of dried wakame
- 4 tbsp of miso
- 3 tbsp of diced scallions
- 2 ½ tbsp of soy sauce
- To make miso soup, you first need to rehydrate the dried wakame using warm water. Add the dried wakame to the water and leave it to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- You also need to drain your block of tofu before chopping it up into bite-sized cubes. A tofu press like this one will give you the best results. Leave the tofu to press and drain for at least 20 minutes before chopping.
- Once the wakame has rehydrated, and the tofu has been pressed, measure out 5 cups of water and bring the water to the boil on the stovetop.
- When the water is boiling, add the chopped tofu and rehydrated wakame to the saucepan, then pour in 2 ½ tbsp of soy sauce.
- Allow the ingredients to cook in the boiling water for 2 minutes before turning the heat off completely. You now need to whisk your miso into the broth. Once whisked, turn the heat up again and allow the ingredients in miso soup to simmer together for a few more minutes.
- Serve your vegan miso soup hot, with a few diced scallions for garnish.
Vegan miso soup FAQ
Vegan miso soup is simple and easy to prepare at home when you have the right ingredients. To help you out in the kitchen, we put together a quick FAQ with answers to the common questions we often hear about this recipe.
What can I serve with vegan miso soup?
Miso soup isn’t often prepared as a main meal, as it’s usually served as an accompaniment.
However, with lots of tofu and a few extra vegetables, such as mushrooms or bean sprouts, miso soup can be turned into a much heartier and more filling broth.
Miso soup can also be served alongside a bowl of rice or a bowl of fresh noodles to turn this into a main meal.
If you are preparing miso soup as a side dish, then it goes perfectly with other Japanese classics: try a double broth dinner by serving miso soup alongside a hearty bowl of ramen, or prepare miso soup as a warm refresher while you enjoy your sushi!
How do I press the tofu?
Tofu is a great addition to any vegan miso soup, providing added protein and plenty of extra texture to the broth.
For the best soup, though, you need to press the tofu before adding it to the broth. Tofu has high water content, and this excess water would not only dilute the vegan miso soup (giving you a watery soup) but would cause the tofu to break up in the broth when cooking.
We suggest using a tofu press for the best results, but it’s also possible to press out the excess liquid using a heavy kitchen object such as a chopping board.
Is vegan miso soup healthy?
While the broth contains just a few ingredients, vegan miso soup is a wonderfully healthy dish that’s packed full of vitamins and nutrients.
- Vegan miso soup is low in calories, low in fat, and with the addition of tofu, the broth is given a high protein content (which is perfect for a vegan diet).
- Miso paste also contains healthy bacteria that are good for the gut and which can promote well being and stave off stomach problems (miso soup is great if you’re feeling ill or need a winter warmer!).
- Served on its own, vegan miso soup is keto-friendly (low carb), making it perfect for low-calorie and low-carb diets.
Can I prepare vegan miso soup ahead of time?
Vegan miso soup is easy to prepare, and it can be prepared ahead of time and warmed up later without much loss of taste or freshness.
We suggest keeping the miso soup covered or in the refrigerator before warming it up again on the stovetop.
Miso soup will keep for at least 48 hours if refrigerated. We don’t recommend freezing the miso soup, particularly with tofu, as the ingredients won’t keep their texture and are likely to break down.
So, is miso soup vegan?
Traditional Japanese miso soup might not be vegan or even vegetarian (given that one of the main ingredients is dashi, a fish-based stock), but it’s easy to turn this into a vegan-friendly broth at home.
Serve your vegan miso soup with rice or noodles, or add a few vegetables for a deliciously healthy starter, snack, or side dish!
Why not save our guide to vegan miso soup, for your next Japanese-inspired dinner?