Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

I usually drink only a big coffee for breakfast and don’t start being hungry before 10 am. If I happen to work at home, this is the moment when I have my late breakfast and my absolute favourite meal is miso soup (miso shiru 味噌汁). It is quick, healthy, full of proteins, low in carbs and quick to prepare. In short, a perfect breakfast. However, by soup miso I don’t mean the tiny bowl which is a part of traditional Japanese meals. I have my miso soup in a bigger bowl and the ingredients I add are often more then unorthodox.

For those who have never had or made a miso soup, it is composed of dashi (Japanese stock) and miso (fermented soybean paste). The most popular dashi version seems to be made with dried bonito flakes and konbu (a type of seaweed). It can be bought ready-to-use, but making dashi at home is very easy and in some countries (like in Switzerland) it is simply cheaper. I make my dashi stock every other week, in big batches, and then store it in the fridge, ready to be reheated. For me the biggest advantage of a home-made dashi is the lack of salt (present in instant dashi). It means I can add more of the delicious miso paste or soy sauce when using my stock. (Click here to see Primary and Secondary Dashi recipes.) Apart from the miso soup, dashi is necessary in many Japanese dishes, such as Fish in Barbarian-Style Marinade, Oyakodon or Udon Soup.

Going back to the miso soup, I always make sure it is packed with proteins, which keep my hunger away for much longer than anything rich in carbs. Tofu is the most frequent ingredient I add, but I also like to use leftover cooked vegetables, mushrooms, seafood or meat. Shrimps are among my favourites; I often have them in my freezer and they are very quick to cook. Today, apart from the shrimps, I have also added some of my beloved firm tofu and sprinkled everything with frozen dill, which is not only ideal for shrimps, but, strangely, goes perfectly well with miso soup on its own. If someone had told me a year ago that dill is the ideal seasoning in miso soup, I wouldn’t believe it, but now I keep it chopped and frozen all year especially for my regular shrimp soups.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

300 ml dashi stock

6 medium cooked shrimps

60 g tofu cut into cubes (I prefer the firm one here)

1/2 teaspoon fresh or frozen chopped dill

1 heaped tablespoon miso

Combine the dashi with miso.

Add the shrimps and the tofu and heat in a small pan, stirring from time to time.

(Do not let it boil!).

When the soup acquires the desired temperature (I prefer it warm, not hot), pour it into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped dill.

46 Replies to “Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu”

  1. Sissi, you eat so healthy! I’ve actually never had miso soup for breakfast before, though it makes a lot of sense and is so balanced!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving, I don’t think you guys celebrate there, but it’s a fun week for the Americans, super festive!

    1. Thank you, Jeno. Unfortunately I don’t eat as healthy as you think… I try to choose healthy food whenever I can, but I’m too weak… Such a soup for breakfast, but korokke or other deep-fried delights haunt me at night 😉 Thank you for the wishes. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  2. The only miso soup I know is the tiny bowl which is a part of traditional Japanese meals:) I want to try this. I also want to try having soup for breakfast. Done it rarely, I need to get used to it mentally. I also need to buy some frozen herbs, they seem to handy. After reading this post I now have a few things to do.

    1. Mr. Three-Cookies, last time I had a Japanese meal with rice and several small bowls, among which a tiny miso soup, I felt very strange… I have had these big bowl of very nourishing miso for quite a long time. If a soup is heavy, I can’t have it for breakfast, but miso is very light and it’s the only healthy breakfast I can think of that doesn’t make me hungry two hours afterwards. I have it especially in Winter. I think it’s easier to buy fresh herbs and freeze them 😉

  3. Sissi, I’m so happy to have this recipe – we woke up to our first snowfall today – it is a winter wonderland!! (you know the picturesque depictions in movies? That’s what it looks like outside right now – beautiful abundant, white fluffy snow :0). So we are firmly in soup season and I need some new inspiration! And you know I appreciate high protein, low carb recipes… I have to go out and pick up some miso – have not had it in stock for a while which is a shame. I also love that you added tofu here with the delightful shrimp; I wish I could have a big bowl of this right now before walking my doggie who is staring at me with BIG eyes 🙂 – off we go for an adventure in the snow!! (I too work from home ;0)

    1. Kelly, this is how I imagine Canada in Winter. All white and snowy… I love high-protein breakfasts. I appreciate that such a specialist as you agrees with me on high-protein side! (I wish I could practice low-carb eating the rest of the day… but it’s impossible…). I like tofu so much, I often have a piece of it as a snack. It fits so many dishes! Have a nice snowy walk!

  4. Miso soup is so good, and it’s a wonderful idea to add more proteins and make it more substantial. It must be soo good since you make your own dashi!

    1. Thank you, Stefanie. Actually, I have never cooked with instant dashi. Before making my first miso soup I went to a Japanese shop, saw that instant dashi was expensive and simply decided to make my own, since it’s ridiculously easy (and here it is cheaper).

          1. I don’t hate tofu – I actually enjoy it a lot if it’s cooked well. But then I strongly feel that holding a belief that the only “real” food is meat is unsustainable and frankly ridiculous. We’re not cavemen anymore. We’ve evolved to so much more. This “omg, must eat meat every day or else I’ll diiiiiiie” mentality is what makes the meat industry the disgusting business that it is today.

            … and besides – tofu is plenty identifiable. It can have a broad range of flavours, colours and certainly textures, depending on how it’s made, cooked and stored.

            1. Charles, even though I love tofu, I couldn’t spend for example two days without meat, fish or seafood. I need dead animals. On one, hand people who eat lots of meat (but I mean here lamb, beef or pork, i.e. “heavy” meats) are not healthy (as much as people who have too much bread, pasta or sugar), but on the other hand every single person I know who wasn’t vegetarian for generations, but who started to be one has health problems (two of them have bone-related problems all the time). I also know eating meat or eggs is much easier and simpler in terms of proteins than vegetable proteins. The vegetarians I talked to explained to me you cannot simply substitute meat with tofu or other vegetable proteins. You have to know how to combine them and with what. In short it’s not easy. I believe we are carnivores, but the fact that we eat too much meat is like eating too much sugar and wheat. I don’t see any difference.
              I must disagree about what makes the meat industry disgusting. It’s not eating meat every day, but first having too big portions and secondly not looking at its quality and being used to low quality one. People want to have the highest quality tv sets, they pay installments during the whole month, but they don’t care how tastes their steak or how the animal suffered, provided there’s plenty of it.

              1. Just to make you laugh and not seem too serious in the previous comment, I was vegetarian for a year (many many years ago) 😉 One Sunday, I simply couldn’t resist roast chicken 😉

              2. Ah, it’s bacon which got me when I gave it a try 😀 (regarding your later comment) – but I agree, and disagree with what you say, for reasons which I’ll outline in hopefully a not altogether too unorganised fashion.

                I know a number of vegetarians myself, none of whom suffer adverse health problems – many of them have been vegetarians for many, many years. There are many illnesses which can afflict people – osteoporosis in post-menopausal women for example – and ultimately if you choose to follow a “non-standard” diet then you have a responsibility to yourself to ensure you’re still taking in a balanced diet which satisfies your dietary requirements. I can understand that if you were a meat-eater for many years and suddenly switched then the change could have quite a severe impact, but if you engage into the new life-style properly and learn some basic sources of vitamins and minerals which you’d normally gain through meat you keep any difficulty to a minimum.

                I don’t feel that eating “flesh” for every single meal, every single day of the week is the way to go. While there may not necessarily be negative health impacts from eating healthier meats like chicken, or good fish every single day, the impact to the environment and the animals themselves is profound. The costs involved in feeding and raising one single cow are very high, compared to its final output. Giant chicken houses in America containing millions of chickens, with missing feet and a high incidence of cancer at slaughter rate amongst the birds because of their conditions – a lack of respect for the animals we eat, and why? Because the industry has to cope with demand. They have to supply massive amounts of meat to the consumers, while still turning a profit. Poor people still need to eat – I feel lucky because going to a butcher or store and dropping €15 on a small chicken is no problem for me – I will pay it because I at least *hope* that by buying organic, free-range, I’m making a small difference. Were I not to be so comfortable financially I would be more concerned with eating. I would still care about my ethics, but when faced with a €15 chicken and a €3 chicken, the €3 one would win out every time unfortunately – it’s either that, or I’d buy the €15 one and not buy any other meat for the rest of the week, which brings me to my main point –

                The demand is there – people eat too much meat. I’ve seen bloggers posting their weekly menus and they will have meat for every single meal. It’s partly tradition I think – meat and two veg is what my grandparents ate, and their grandparents I guess… when they could afford meat. When they could it was likely a special occasion, and so this “special occasion” of roast chicken or something has turned into a now 3-times-daily event which no-one thinks about. Absolutely, people should eat less, and they should care about the quality and supply of their food, but let’s face it – everyone loves a deal, and while people are still eating the stuff every single day, we’re still going to have the very lackadaisical attitude towards the industry.

                I hope this doesn’t come off as some sort of “holier-than-thou” preaching speech, it’s not my intention at all if it does, my apologies 🙂 As you can probably guess though it’s something I feel quite strongly about – I just really believe that the western world could do so much more to improve the health and “culinary horizons” of its citizens, but we still seem stuck on this belief of “omg, slimy tofu, that stuff sucks, gimme a steak please!” 🙁

                1. Omg that was long 😀 I can’t believe your wonderful miso soup post turned into an impassioned speech by me about my views of the meat trade (miso doesn’t even have meat, lol)!

                2. Charles, it doesn’t sound at all like “holier-than-thou” speech! I am happy we can discuss our points of view and always happy to see I’m not the only one to leave long comments 😉 I love reading long comments.
                  My point of view is very close to yours, but I still think people who eat meat for every meal and every day are very often uneducated and it would be easier to tell them “eat 100g meat instead of 500g” rather than explaining how to substitute it with tofu or other vegetable products.
                  Just like you, I’m interested in the food, its advantages, vitamins etc. but I wouldn’t be able to know how to feed myself in a healthy way if I stopped eating meat for example 5 days a week. Recently a French couple ended up in prison because they starved their child to death forcing it to have a vegan diet they apparently haven’t mastered. The other children were also in horrible health condition and the parents weren’t poor and they were not simple, uneducated people… For me it’s the same case like the British mother whose horribly obese son was taken away because she kept on feeding him so much food, he could die. Extremes might be tragical.
                  I still disagree with the reasons why animals are bred in such awful conditions. Producers create the needs. If battery chickens were forbidden (they are forbidden in Switzerland), they would cost more and poor families which unfortunately don’t have much food knowledge, would eat less meat, automatically (the Swiss buy less meat).
                  I am far from being rich and frankly spend lots of money on food because I want good quality and accidentally, as you say, free-range animals are not dangerous for the environment. People who don’t have conscience or knowledge should be put in a situation when they have no choice but good quality.
                  On the other hand the situation in Europe is not comparable to the one in the US I suppose. I suppose France and Italy (and Switzerland) doesn’t consume as much meat as Poland or Russia or Germany.
                  It’s such a pleasure (for me) to eat meat or fish or seafood at least once a day and I won’t stop it just because it’s supposed to be good for the planet. I have been paying double price for the chicken, at least 50% more for pork and beef, I support butchers and not supermarket stalls and I think it means much more than if I ate battery animals and went vegetarian twice a week. I know I have a healthy diet, I don’t have 500 g steaks and I already do enough with my vegetables and meat buying choices to save the planet, so I don’t feel I should modify anything. You probably think I’m selfish…
                  For me the question is not what people like you and me can do for us but what can be done so that more people change their attitude.
                  Thank you Charles for your answer and do not hesitate to comment whenever you want! It’s such a pleasure to discuss the subjects we are passionate about 🙂

                  1. Yeah – I absolutely agree that ideally, people should be put in a situation where they can’t/don’t eat so much meat. A typical steak in a restaurant in France is… I guess 160-180g. I can go and get a delicious Chateaubriand steak, from the Charolais herd in a restaurant… for about €25 I think. It’s 180g and my God – it’s like eating butter. I remember a time when someone from my company’s HQ in the US was visiting the France office and we were at lunch with him in a nearby restaurant. He ordered a steak… it arrived, and the look on his face was priceless. I think he looked forlornly at his plate before saying: “Where’s the steak?” 😀

                    For me, that size is easily enough to be honest :/ I read about those vegan parents with those children, it’s so sad – personally I couldn’t condone imposing those types of dietary restrictions upon someone so young. It reminds me of people who give their cats “vegetarian cat food” (!!!) – while, as I’ve said, I do think man can easily survive 100% without meat, we do gain many important nutrients from it, some of which are hugely important to growing children and if you make one screw-up you’re not playing with your own life anymore, but that of your child’s which, as we saw, can have very tragic conclusions.

                    I find it curious, peoples’ love of meat – Of course, I have times when I want nothing better than to just sink my teeth into a fatty burger, or a wonderful pink steak, but other types the very idea just makes me feel really gross. I guess for about two days of each week I often really don’t feel like eating meat at all – I just have a really strong desire to eat really fresh tasting things – lemon and lime, pulses like beans and lentils, lots of herbs, fresh fruits and raw vegetables. Things with a lot of crunch – I love Japanese Okonomiyaki for that reason… big cabbage pancake – what could be better?! – I guess I never feel like I get that “fresh feeling” from eating meat or fish. I seem to be amongst the minority who feel this way though I guess 🙂

                    1. Charles, I feel exactly what you describe about not feeling like meat, but never towards fish or seafood (on the other hand I never refuse foie gras… I’m lost!). Since I started to cook lots of Japanese dishes I discovered I can have only seafood or fish for several days, which is absolutely not the way I was brought up and a big step towards healthier diet in my case. I think meat is all about habit and being brought up with the idea of meat as necessary item.
                      As I said I hardly ever eat beef, so for me meat is mainly chicken and sometimes pork, rarely lamb. The only beefy dreams I have is about a good steak tartare (the best one I have ever had is at gare de Lyon, Train Bleu restaurant, not the downstairs bar, but the upstairs beautiful restaurant, they also have excellent service and reasonable prices, sorry for this change of subject 😉 ).
                      I know it’s often psychological: today I have had for lunch about 50 g of chicken stir fried with 200 g vegetables and I felt I had a meat meal… I would feel the same with 100g probably, but if there was just tofu and vegetables I would probably feel strange.
                      I read today at Mr. Three-Cookies’ blog about pregnant women’s diet’s influence on children’s future eating habits, so I suppose if one has a meat-eating pregnant mother, and then very quickly starts eating meat too, his or her organism screams for it in most cases…
                      Vegetarian cat food sounds worse than ridiculous…

                    2. gosh i’m really enjoyign reading this discussion. i’m very much a health geek too, if anyone bothers reading my “listen to your mummy” page. i really think healthy eating is about striking a balance, cliche as that may sound, but i have gone through it all. not being vegetarian or anything but avoiding fatty meat and you know the usual, and then realising the merits of fat, but then dissing carbs, and then now back to square one– the way i grew up eating, which is surprisingly the most satisfying and sustainable way to go. i dont feel like i need meat everyday, but neither do i go wholly vegan, and when i do eat meat, i make sure it’s from ethical sources (:

                    3. Thanks, Shuhan. I’m happy you have enjoyed our discussion. For me the finding the balance between the healthy and the good is the biggest problem (of course I tend to prefer the latter…). As for sources, I suppose your market job is perfect to choose the best available!

  5. I love miso soup because it is hearty and easy to make. I also love adding lots of seaweed, tofu and chopped shallots as what the Japanese do. Like you, I also find I need a huge bowl because the one small bowl is almost like a teaser!

    1. I knew I was not the only fan of big bowls of hearty miso soup 🙂 I don’t always feel like seaweed, but I often add it too.

  6. Aaahh … another of my many comfort foods. I’m like you. I throw in tons of stuff in my miso, even noodles at times when I need something heavier. Um, should I share this with you? …. ok, I will, please don’t fall off your chair or get annoyed … I stopped having miso for a couple of years some time back after a friend told me it smells like another certain person’s armpit. LOL, I don’t know why I’m telling you this but I always had to bring this up everytime someone mentions miso. I hope I haven’t put anyone of it 😀

    1. I’m happy you too are in the maxi-miso soup club 😉 And this put you off miso 😉 I think I would have to find a dead rat in a box of miso… and yet, I supposse I would buy a different brand. On the other hand I can’t understand why your friend said it: every single person who smells miso, says it has a beautiful aroma… Are you sure it wasn’t an instant miso soup he or she smelled???? Seaweed smell is not pleasant for everyone.
      Talking about smells, we often eat French ripening soft cheese (read: smelly) so I’m not frightened by strange smelling food. I once met a girl who said she hated parmesan because it smelled like baby vomit. I said “for me it smells parmesan”. Smells are also very subjective. I remember the first time I smelled camembert it instantly made me think it must taste delicious.

      1. Hahaha! I don’t think parmesan smells like baby vomit. And camembert is one of my favorite cheeses. I guess my friend must have had some bad miso … those they serve as a complimentary side. Some of those can be quite bad…. but not as what she described. 😀

        1. Oh, so it was miso soup, not miso! Now I understand (miso itself has a beautiful smell).
          This person had actually a horrible, disgusting comparison to every possible cheese (even mozzarella smelt for her like something precise and awful). Needless to say, I don’t see this woman any more 😉

      2. Speaking of camembert – did you ever try Coulommiers? I think you sometimes can’t beat a good bit of brie myself – because of the way it’s ripened I always find Brie much more tasty, but out of Brie, Camembert and Coulommiers, Coulommiers is just amazing. I can’t buy it anymore because my wife will literally eat the whole disc of it herself in 48 hours without saving any for me :p

        1. I think I must have had it years ago… it’s incredible because yesterday I was having some Brillat Savarin and was going to write to you and ask if you have ever tasted it. It’s the only non-raw milk cheese (a specialist once explained to me it’s necessary to obtain the soft mellowy creamy texture). I am exactly like your wife with Coulommiers: I can finish half of it (I usually buy halves) in two days. Do try it if you don’t know it yet!

  7. Oh yeah, sorry, forget the word “soup”. Mozzarella? I don’t even smell mozzarella. Yeah, people who don’t have any food sense are difficult to talk to if you’re one who’s very passionate about it.

    1. She meant mozzarella di bufala (bufalo mozzarella), often considered as the only real mozzarella and this one smells (even though less than parmesan).
      You are right, but this woman’s strange attitude to food was not the only thing I disliked…

  8. 😮 It’s really so easy to make Miso soup? I never knew it was just dashi and miso paste – I’m so glad I’ve discovered the wonderful dashi – I had a soba soup the other day with some chicken which I mixed with silken tofu, as you wrote on your blog a few posts back (couldn’t find any of that Japanese herb alas), was really great!

    To be honest, I like your idea of adding the unorthodox ingredients a lot. Every time I’m in a Japanese restaurant and I’ve served the miso soup it ends up annoying me. Either it seems to be literally a bowl of hot water, no stock, with some seaweed and tofu floating around, or it will be lukewarm, or just a pain because all I want to do is start eating the real meal but I have to wait with a bowl of scalding liquid in front of me. Adding more herbs and the shrimp sounds like a wonderful idea to bulk it out a bit, although I’m not sure if I could have it as a late breakfast! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Charles! It’s simple isn’t it? And making my own dashi takes me about forty minutes every ten days (to make both primary and secondary dashi with almost the same two ingredients). I obtain about 2 litres dashi and I can make my soups and other Japanese dishes. I am happy you like mixing meat with tofu!
      I shouldn’t probably say it because I’m not Japanese, but I have never liked miso soups I had in restaurants. Just like you say, one feels as if it was just a bit of miso dissolved in tasteless water, the seaweed and the tofu seem to have been there for the previous night… and the soup is often lukewarm, not hot. I also suspect them of using very low quality miso too (I use an organic, grainy miso I love).

    2. Charles, as you know, I love to look up recipes on the net before I actually try them and miso soup was one of my favourites. It can be different each time you make it and flavourful each time. Though I like heavier soups, sometimes (especially in the heat of summer) miso soup is the way to go so I don’t always need to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. 🙂 In Japan, of course, the soup is made year round and the additions to the basic dashi stock and miso are seasonal.

      When I first tried miso soup in a Japanese sushi restaurant, I found the flavour to be very mild and wondered whether my western palate was too used to stronger flavours to be able to appreciate the more subtle ones created by the miso paste. I started buying red miso paste at home and found that the soup I make with that has a much bolder flavour than the one in the restaurant. I have made miso soup with white miso paste though that’s more commonly used in sauces, mayo and salad dressings and the flavour of the broth is very mild. Next time I go shopping I’m bringing some yellow miso paste home to try. 🙂

      1. “I found the flavour to be very mild and wondered whether my western palate was too used to stronger flavours to be able to appreciate the more subtle ones created by the miso paste”

        You know, I wondered the exact same thing – I found it extremely delicate when I tried it, but as I’ve tried different ones over time I’ve found that it was probably just that type of paste as you say. There was a restaurant in Paris which used to serve the most vile soup – I had a very unfortunate experience when I went there once. I mean, I don’t go there for the soup of course, I was there for the BBQ meats, but the soup they served literally had no flavour… just stale, hot water, with a bit of sesame oil on top I think and some seaweed. Normally they’d serve a lovely miso soup – this time though, alas, it was not to be :p

  9. I would have never thought of using dill in a miso soup but I’ll take your word for it. It I grow some fresh dill in my garden next spring, I can try if for myself. 🙂

    My favourite quick miso soup usually just has a pinch of ground wakame in it, a beaten egg drizzled in and some barely poached julienned baby bok choy with a green onion garnish.

    1. I have only had this idea because of shrimps. I knew shrimps and dill were perfect company, hence the experiment. Your miso soup version sounds excellent! Thank you!

  10. What, you only have a large cup of coffee and that’s it? I eat pretty big breakfast before 8, but I’m usually hungry (with my tummy making noise) before 10! The dill in miso soup! You always come up with this kind of creative dish! Trying to think if I have ever put shrimp in miso soup… hmm only think I can remember is deep fried shrimp head in miso soup. Have you had that before? If you order Amaebi (sweet shrimp) sushi, they usually give you a miso soup with deep fried shrimp head (leftover) which has the most flavor. I’ve never cooked it at home but it’s something you would enjoy I think. I barely buy dill (you know I don’t cook many Western meals), but when I buy it, it’s usually a lot. I know one dish I can make with. Your miso soup!

    1. Thank you, Nami! I think my tastebuds and brain are so sleepy at least for two hours after I wake up, I simply am not hungry. The shrimp head sounds fabulous, though I don’t think I will ever get it here in restaurants… The restaurants in my city serve very popular Japanese dishes and they would probably be afraid most people wouldn’t like a shrimp head. Often, when I go to a restaurant with let’s say 20 or thirty dishes, I have eaten all of them already in another restaurants with the identical menu. Even the “day lunch” is only chosen among a very short list of dishes they repeat all year…
      I think I would enjoy the deep-fried shrimp head. If you buy a lot of dill, chop it and freeze. It’s really fantastic sprinkled on a soup, on potatoes, on fish and seafood dishes too.

  11. I always envy those who start the day with a mug of coffee. They lookso…grown up. I have a terrible stomach acid that makes it impossible for me to have coffee in the morning or when my stomach is empty. But same like you, I`m not hungry in the morning. So I only have a cup of tea and fruits or sweet potato.
    I never try dill in anything and now you made me want to! Problem is, I have to find out where I can buy it here 😀 I agree that miso shiru is a versatile soup because it goes beautifully with many ingredients. I even made a spicy version 😀 Have you tried using soy milk instead of water?

    1. Arudhi, you are lucky: at least you are not dependent on coffee! I couldn’t function normally without it. I will send you dill seeds in Spring if you want (and if you remind me), it grows very easily on the balcony. (And maybe even inside?) Thanks for the soy milk tip! I’ll try it (I always have soy milk for my… coffee…).

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