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What The Heck Is Miso? + Miso Soup Recipe

With the days getting longer, the sun shining and an upcoming deadline almost complete, I’m feeling very happy. I’ve been cooking alot these days and this is one soup that is very delicious and will make you happy too!

That’s because it contains a fermented food called “Miso.” 

Miso Happy Soup

What Is Miso?

Honestly, I didn’t know about miso for most of my life. I had heard of miso soup and tried it at various sushi restaurants, but really never knew what it was or if it was good for me or even how to find it at the grocery store. Well, as soon as I started doing some investigating into my own health, I quickly realized that fermented foods like miso were absolutely crucial for a healthy diet.

Miso paste is created from a mixture of soybeans, sea salt and rice koji and then fermented. The fermentation process creates enzyme-rich compounds that are effective in detoxifying and eliminating industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals from the soil and food system from your body. It has been used for centuries in asian cultures as a form of probiotics, to strengthen the immune system, and to provide beneficial B12. Miso is very powerful! 

Where do I get it?

I remember when I used to scour International grocery stores to find miso. When I did, it would always have a language I couldn’t read and I had no idea how it was produced. Now, thankfully I found an organic brand called “Miso Master” – produced by a small business out of Asheville, NC. You can find it nationwide in the same refrigerated section as other soy products like tofu, tempeh, etc. at the grocery store. They even make one out of chickpeas if you are allergic to soy! The reason I buy organic miso, and organic miso only, is because I do not want to purchase GMOs or soy that have been extracted with a very carcinogenic chemical called hexane (also found in gasoline). Also, Miso Master Organic Miso got an excellent rating from my friends at the organic industry watchdog group, Cornucopia Institute. The report is available here, if you’d like to read it.

Miso Master Organic

Recipe: Miso Happy Soup

I used to order Miso soup when I would go out for sushi, but I don’t anymore. Many of the commercial versions available that restaurants use contain hidden forms of MSG and other additives. I want to eat this superfood without any complications, so I now make the soup myself – it’s hot, comforting and so easy to make! 

Food Babe's Miso Happy Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 sheet (1/4 cup) nori (dried seaweed), cut into large rectangles
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms and/or firm organic tofu, cubed
  • ½ cup miso paste (red or white)
  • ¾ cup chopped green onions
  • sea salt (as desired)
  1. Place water in a large pot and bring to a low simmer.
  2. Add nori, tofu and mushrooms and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place miso paste into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth.
  4. Then add to the soup with green onions and stir. This will ensure it doesn't clump - it's important not to boil the miso (you don't want to kill the beneficial bacteria).
  5. Simmer 3 more minutes and serve immediately warm or store later to serve cold.
***Please choose all organic ingredients if possible*** Recipe goes great with a salad with carrot ginger dressing and quinoa sushi.


This recipes goes perfect with a salad using my carrot ginger dressing (which also has miso) and homemade quinoa sushi recipes! 

Miso happy to share this with you…please share this recipe with others too!



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147 responses to “What The Heck Is Miso? + Miso Soup Recipe

    1. Sprouts Farmers Markets carry it and they’re located in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and in June, Georgia. Might be other places, as well.

  1. where do you get nori? ive never seen it anywhere or even heard that name…I have heard of seaweed but not nori…any ideas? would it be in my regular grocery store?

    1. Try a health food store, like whole foods or an Asian food store (You will definitely find it there).

    2. Nori- is dried seaweed!! Like the ones they use to roll sushi! They have it at whole foods or trader Joes

  2. Thank you for sharing your careful & meticulous researches! I am a Nutritionist/Dietitian by education but I’m learning more & more about how to choose healthier foods (from non-GMO’s & organically grown sources) from your articles. I will start looking out for this Miso Master Organic Miso & other certified organic food choices!
    Carry on the research for the numbers of those who are becoming more aware is exponentially increasing throughout the world!

      1. Vani,
        Miso itself is salty. You want to add sea st on top of that.
        On the contrary. I was going
        To ask if you after Miso,
        Soy sauce and similar companies to reduce Salt it self from their products,.
        Less than one tea spoon salt
        We need daily (one teaspoon is still high , medically)
        Lvu your concept

    1. Miso itself is salty. You want to add sea st on top of that.
      On the contrary. I was going
      To ask if you after Miso,
      Soy sauce and similar companies to reduce Salt it self from their products,.
      Less than one tea spoon salt
      We need daily (one teaspoon is still high , medically)
      Lvu your concept

  3. I do believe that cooking the miso in a soup would kill the beneficial probiotics which were created by the fermentation process. Miso is new to me, so I am wondering if there are any other ways to eat it raw. I culture veggies, kombucha and water kefir, so I am interested in using miso, but it would have to be raw to get the full benefits!

    1. Miso dressing is a fantastic use without heat. Think of it sort of like worchestershire sauce: a very salty and concentrated mix of rich, complex flavors. One of my favorite uses is over cold noodle salad.

    2. Miso should never be boiled. You bring the water to a simmer, then add the miso and once melted, you take it off the heat.

    3. When I make miso soup, I make everything (the broth, essentially) first, and only add in the miso when I heat up an individual portion, so that it does not overheat and kill the healthful benefits. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Monica, you can (and I have) add miso paste to raw soups you make in the blender. e.g. miso paste, avocado and/or coconut oil, any spices/herbs you like, any vegetables you like (i.e. bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini, tomato, spinach, celery).

    1. Miso paste will keep over a year in the refrigerator as long as it is tightly covered and doesn’t dry out. The mixture is heavily salted (salt=natural preservative) and fermented (fermentation=controlled spoiling).

    1. I used to frequently cook with miso (red miso, white miso, etc.. Each has it’s own flavor). I really liked it and it added much to the vegetarian diet that I was on at that time. Over the years, I continued making miso soup. However, today, after much study on hormones due to going through menopause, I learned that soy is not good for women, as it adds more estrogen to the body and we really do not need to add more estrogen. Actually, progesterone is what we need. You can do the research (Dr. Lee was an expert on it). I do not forgo the miso soup or the edamame when I go for sushi, but any other time, I personally avoid it.

      1. Yea, I’m so happy to know that. Miso is wonderful and now I don’t have to give it up! Thank you, Food Babe!

  5. I’m so glad you discussed miso! My vegan friend tells me that miso’s probiotics/enzymes are comparable to that of yogurt! My mom adds bone marrow to for a more nutritious kick.

  6. Looking at this to serve it to my father who suffers from heart disease and Parkinson’s, just concerned about the salt content in miso, as he is on a strict low salt diet due to his heart issues.

    Any alternatives? Any low salt miso? tyxx

    1. White miso is lower in sodium, you can cut the miso in half as well – although the soup may not be as flavorful.

    1. I think the temperature of the crock pot would kill the beneficial bacteria of the Miso, as the recipe stated. ‘do not boil’.

    2. This is such a quick little soup, a crockpot would be overkill really, but if you needed to simmer the water, nori, tofu and mushrooms in a crockpot, you could turn it off THEN add the miso, to which you have added a little hot water and whisked until smooth, and the green onions. No real need to continue cooking at this point.
      We use this miso as an instant soup. Put a glop in a mug, mix it with a small amt of water til smooth, then add hot water. Enjoy!

  7. Is miso vegetarian? I once ordered it at a restaurant and the taste was very fishy, so I assumed it was cooked with fish or something similar.

    1. It was probably the other components they added to the soup that made it seem fishy – like bonito flakes. I don’t like those, so I didn’t use it my recipe 🙂

  8. only problem, my container says 450 mg sodium for 2 tsp, and 1/2 of the 8 oz container is 12 servings, so a horrendous 6000 mg sodium, enough for 4 days on a 1500 mg sodium intake diet

  9. miso happy too for this share. i’m happy to be in an area of so many asian stores but i prefer the miso that comes from japan bec of their quality–non-gmo, tried one made in usa and taste different. gave up non fermented soy products. read in an article that soy need to be fermented otherwise your health will be affected. any thoughts? thanks

    1. Hi ed. a.,

      Unfermented soybeans contain:

      1. goitrogens which can inhibit thyroid function,
      2.they contain trypsin inhibitors which prevents the body from digesting proteins,
      3. and they also contain phytoestrogens which if excessively consumed can interfere with hormonal balance.
      4. Not to mention that if you are using conventional soy they contain pesticides and are genetically modified – not good!

      Fermented organic soy is better (ie. tempeh, miso, natto) because the unwanted properties (see above) are diminished greatly BUT not totally. So to balance this you should have SEAWEED which is high in iodine (ie nori, dulse, wakame, kombu, kelp, etc) with ANY soy products to offset the unwanted properties.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Sounds delish!! However, I reeeeally do not like mushrooms 🙁 What else could I use instead? Thanks!!

    1. Instead of the mushrooms you could use a variety of hot and sweet peppers. What I would do is dice some red and yellow bell peppers, some diced chili peppers and maybe some zucchini. Fry those in a little mild oil with garlic until they are soft. When they are ready add a handful of baby spinach and some sambal oleck. When the spinach is wilted add the rest of your soup ingredients. You can top it toasted sesame seeds along with the raw green onion and your favorite sprouts, drizzle it with sesame oil, top it with shredded basil, top it with crispy fried noodles. The possibilities are almost endless. I have had miso soup but always thought it needed more.
      You could also go in a different approach and dice some butternut squash , yellow squash and red onion. Add some organic honey , sprouts and crispy parsnip and pear chips.
      When making quick soups at home always try to develop the textures by using something crispy as a topping such as oven crisp veggie chips. You can use beets, carrots, potatoes, parsnips or even spicy deep fried onion straws. Slice red onions very thinly, soak in milk and hot sauce ( or not). Coat with seasoned flour and corn starch. Deep fry until crispy. Maybe not the healthiest choice but pretty tasty on cheat day.

      1. “Cheat day” should never include wheat. Better to eat sugar.

  11. I have never tried this before, look forward to making it. I have a question my family loves edamame we just steam and eat, wondering the heath benefits if any from eating these. thank you .

  12. I am Japanese and I have to say I am a bit confused.. Nori is a type of seaweed which itself is very small and gathered then dried to make a big sheet. So if you put it in any liquid, it will disintegrate and the soup will be black. We use kombu or bonito flake to get a stock. If you use nori and if it tastes good, great, but it is not a typical way to make miso soup.

    1. Very true about the nori. We use wakame, which is better for holding the form, yet is still easy to cook with. I heartily suggest wakame.

    2. Yes! I agree. Plus, nori is usually coated with stuff (sugar, salt, etc.). It’s what you use for making sushi. I use dried bonito fish flakes plus kombu seaweed for the broth base, then strain and add the miso paste mixed with hot water, tofu, and rehydrated wakame seaweed. You can find all these things at an Asian grocery store. It’s worth the trip.

  13. All very good information! Migraine sufferers, be careful of the fermented miso, it can trigger migraines. That is all.

  14. Thanks for sharing this, Vani! I’m excited to make this because my husband and I love miso soup. We have not had it in a while because we thought seaweed/nori might not be safe to consume after the Fukushima incident. Does anyone know if this is indeed the case? Are there other sources of seaweed/nori? Also, I’ve been avoiding tofu because I thought it was unfermented soy – Is it?

  15. Thank you, Vani, for your wonderful site and your dedication to public health. I have thyroid gland issues, which includes a goiter. Research shows that soy is a goitrogen, so I avoid it like the plague. But now, I’m wondering if it would, possibly, be safe to consume fermented soy. This soup sounds delicious and comforting.

  16. I have a wonderful recipe for Miso Soup. I buy the same brand of Miso at Whole Foods and they always carry the Low-Sodium White Miso. {But I wouldn’t worry about the high sodium content if you can’t find the low sodium because recent research has shown that in spite of its high-sodium content, miso does not appear to affect our cardiovascular system in the way that other high-sodium foods sometimes can}.

    However, after reading the ingredients in this recipe I noticed it called for Nori Seaweed and I was quite shocked ! Isn’t this product from Japan??? We are all still worried about the radiation spill and I would never consume this product. Personally I would never consume ANY seaweed from the Pacific! This is also the reason I stopped eating any type of Salmon. Food Babe, what’s up???????

    1. I agree. I havent eaten Salmon since the radiation in Japan, except from Norway which is hard to find. I would not be sure of anything from the Japanese oceans now. What do others think?

      1. I am in the same boat. I do not eat Salmon anymore unless from Norway. I have found that in Whole Foods. I also avoid lots of foods from that whole area, not only Japan! I hope she addresses this concern. I would love to hear her thoughts.

    2. Food Babe, I am very disappointed that you did not address our concerns over the seaweed from Japan (the Pacific where the radiation spill is). Do you not read your comments? 🙁

  17. Please forgive my ignorance, but aren’t soy products NOT good for you? What makes this type of soy product different from the rest out there? Thank you… 🙂

    1. Miso is a fermented product. All soy products which are fermented no longer have the nutritional profile of soy, which is indeed unhealthy. Westerners have adulterated the benefits of soy by isolating and not fermenting.

      Same for natto, tempeh, shoyu sauce. Tofu may be the only unfermented soy product which is eaten in Asia.

  18. I use Miso Master in and on everything. The paste that is sold in my health stores local is the yellow paste and it tastes amazing. I highly suggest getting your hands on this.

  19. I too have a soy concern. I would only be interested in consuming fermented soy. I avoid soy because I have an auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s, and have been told to remove ALL gluten and soy. Not sure if that includes fermented soy?
    If used the chickpeas version in place of the soy, would it be fermented as well? I assume so?

  20. I too have questions about selecting Nori, or other seaweeds.

    I live in Maine, and local sea weeds are available in stores.

    Is there any regulation regarding harvesting these from safe non-contaminated waters? Although we may not have the radiation contamination of the waters on the East Coast (yet), there are certainly other pollutants entering the water,

    Thanks Food Babe!

  21. Thank you for all of your work Vani! This post about Miso (which I love) got me to wondering about the safety of seaweed produces these days as the oceans have become so polluted. Could you speak to this some time soon. Thanks for being so awesome!

  22. trader joe’s now carries a miso broth in the carton type container.
    the ingredient list looks pretty good altho I’m sure it can’t compare
    to the quality of home-made.

  23. Is there a substitution for miso? I’m allergic to soy, so I had to quit eating at my favorite Japanese restaurant. Everything is soy. I miss their dressing as well as sauces so much. If you know of a substitute, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

  24. It bothers me that so many good questions people asked above have gone unanswered. I see this happen on every blog I read, not just this one. Just a concern I have……people have questions and need answers. I think bloggers need to be a little more attentative to their reader’s questions. 🙂

    1. I too have the same concern. There are so many good questions and many of them I also have. Hopefully some answers will be forthcoming. Thanks Food Babe for all your work and spreading of info.

    2. I was reading most of her comments for the Miso soup and mostly “not good” comments about the ingredients. I am hoping that the reason for her non-response is MORE RESEARCH. But still, someone (possible person that works for her) could ask her for some kind of response to let us know she (or employee) is reading our comments.

  25. Bragg’s has a product that is used as a soy sauce substitute. It is called “Liquid Aminos” – try it!

      1. Should try coconut aminos instead ! Soo good! Def don’t even miss soy sauce at all 🙂

  26. I worry that the Nori has radiation from the Pacific Ocean. Where do you get yours and how can I be sure that it is not from any body of water affected by the radiation leak from the Japanese tsunami?
    Other than this, I can’t wait to try it!

    1. I just posted the same concern! I have not had anything from that area since learning more about the disaster and how it might affect our food supply. I would love to hear the Food Babes input on this!

  27. There is too much salt in it though. . . I bought a tub of that stuff once but I wonder if they can make it without all that salt… Then I could gladly eat more than a teaspoon at a time of it.

    1. Its pretty easy to make at home you go online and buy the spores, cook a carb (rice, barley, etc), cook a bean /protein, inoculate it and let it sit /heat up etc. I feel ill so can’t go find the name of the biz that sells the spores but am sure can be found online

  28. I am excited about this recipe but I have concerns over eating seaweed, among other foods from that area since the Japanese nuclear disaster. It is on par with Chernobyl and they also dumped millions of tons of contaminated water into the ocean. Radiation has been found in the U.S. milk supply among other sources. Have you looked into how this has affected our food supply and do you have any concerns? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. I feel a lot is being down played. Thanks!

  29. this sounds amazing and super easy to make, I’ll just have to figure out where to find the paste in canada :/ maybe a health food store?

  30. Hi, I love your blog. You may want to add a cautionary note on this recipe – many women are cautioned against eating soy because it contains phytoestrogens. This would include cancer patients and some people who are susceptible to certain types of cancers. I’m a breast cancer patient, and have been told to avoid all soy. Thanks!

    1. Lisa, I was just about to comment on the same issue. I have uterine fibroids, which feed on phytoestrogens, so I currently need to stay away from soy. I’m wondering, however, if I might be able to go back to it after menopause, when the fibroids should disappear.

      1. Debby, that’s a great question. I had fibroids too, but had a complete (radical) hysterectomy last year. I’m not sure, but there could be a relationship between the fibroids and a susceptibility to cancer? My thinking being that if estrogen (or possibly an excess of estrogen) causes an individual any one issue, they may want to avoid it so as not to trigger any of the other issues. In other words, if you have fibroids that could have started by an estrogen problem, could you also be susceptible to breast cancer or other problems that can be triggered by an estrogen problem. It can be pretty overwhelming thinking about all the risks and possibilities!

  31. For the best miso in the country check out
    This small company is so committed to the quality of their miso, that they will not ship it during the hot summer months. They have several soy-free, gluten-free varieties. The quality is superlative and the taste lovely.

  32. Vani,
    Miso itself is salty. You want to add sea st on top of that.
    On the contrary. I was going
    To ask if you after Miso,
    Soy sauce and similar companies to reduce Salt it self from their products,.
    Less than one tea spoon salt
    We need daily (one teaspoon is still high , medically)
    When we are on strict healthy subject I hope this may need some clarification pl
    Lvu your concept

  33. Where can i get natto? Its vile but quite the lifesaver. I actually live in metro asheville and have not seen it. Or durian, would like that too. Thanks

  34. For a long time soy was the ‘it’ for item, in more recent years soy has been a food to avoid not only because of GMOs, but also because of it’s hormone disrupting potential. I’ve long wondered of fermented soy like miso is as disruptive to the hormone balance. Can you comment on this?

    1. Fermented soy is NOT a hormone disrupters like regular plain soy. The fermentation process changes the soy to make it more bio available to your system. If you have been told to a wild soy. It is usually meant as unfermented soy which is the hormone disrupter.

  35. For how long can you keep a tub of miso in the fridge? It’s already fermented, so will it last nearly indefinitely? 🙂

  36. Thanks so much! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. My sister is a major miso fan and has been looking for a healthier option. Instead of the miso master, I got her Eden Foods Hacho miso at our health store- BJ’s, for those in the High Desert. Eden Foods’ miso has less sodium than Miso Master. I think it was 650 per tbsp. They only had one, so I will definitely get one of my own next week.

  37. I have lots of food problems. No wheat, cheese, potatoes or corn. I had a brilliant idea of making vegan cheese with miso and nuts. It tasted wonderful but my airways almost closed shut and have been sick and wheezing for going on 3 weeks. Ended up going to a doctor for a steroid shot and z pack. If you all have issues like I do, eat a small portion and wait an hour to make sure you can handle soy.
    Vanni, have you got any cheese substitutes or know how to make mozzarella cheese with rennet tablets?

  38. Is westbrae natural an okay brand? I did see the brand you mentioned but,it was twice as expensive.

  39. First time I’ve ever had anything like this. Something very different but I could get very accustomed to this quickly. I used Pink Himalayan salt and threw on some hulled hemp seeds into the mix. Thank you so much for the recipe!

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