Takako Yazaki's Miso Soup

by Ann on June 6, 2009

Takako Yazaki's Miso Soup

I love miso soup.  I could probably eat it every single day before a meal or two and be content.  Well, I am soooo lucky that my brother married a wonderful Japanese girl from Nagasaki willing to share her family’s recipe with me.  Usually she doesn’t measure but I made her do it this time.  Also, the recipe is a little tweaked for my brother, who doesn’t like the little fish floating around in the soup, we may make that one later.  However, for my brother, she makes it with an egg, rather than tofu.  For our purposes, we like tofu better in miso soup so this recipe has tofu in it.  If you don’t like tofu, you can add an egg instead per bowl and it’s pretty darn good as well!  Takako told me that in Southern Japan, they use light miso (Nagasaki is in the South) and in the Northwest, they use dark miso. 

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 cups water
  • scant 1/4 cup katsuobushi, which is dried fish flakes (go to a specialty store that sells Japanese food, you may want to call ahead to make sure)
  • scant 1/4 cup dried seaweed (we used wakame this time but Takako said whatever is fine)
  • 2 1/4 TB light (or dark) miso, I bought mine at the specialty store but make sure you ask which one is natural, because the other brand they sold had msg in it, you can buy miso at most places though with English printed on it so you know what you’re buying.  I don’t understand a darn thing on my package!
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu (or less if you want less) 
  • green onion for garnish (just the green part, not the stalky crunchy part)


  • Put water in pan over medium to low heat.  Put katsuobushi in a tea basket or strainer basket that won’t overfill into the water, cook on low until tiny bubbles form and start moving up to the top, about 10-15 minutes. Takako said it’s important not to let it boil once you add miso or the boiling water will ruin the miso flavor and you can’t taste it. 
  • Meanwhile, put seaweed in a bowl of cold water, no need to measure, I think my bowl had almost 3 cups of water in it.  It’s very fun to watch the seaweed expand.  I felt like a kid watching some plant grow in fast-forward.  It’s fascinating:)  Something great for when you’re bored.
  • Once those bubbles start forming in the water with the katsuobushi, add miso to the strainer basket and mix it up with chopsticks - the miso will disperse in the soup.  Some misos are chunkier, so then the chunks won’t get all over the place.
  • Drain seaweed and add to the broth
  • Add tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes or smaller.  Takako cuts the tofu over the pan like her mom does as she adds it.  She said sometimes the tofu is too soft to cut properly on the cutting board so it’s easier just to do it over the bowl in her hand and put it all in at once after cutting
  • Remove the strainer basket, serve in bowls and add green onion for garnish

Ta da!  Easy!  I’m not intimidated anymore and will make this all the time!  Takako mentioned that just as you can’t boil the miso when you’re cooking it, don’t boil the miso while re-heating either.  This is a light, delicious version of miso.  I am used to darker miso and much saltier versions at restaurants and think this is fantastic.  Also, after eating this kind, I don’t think I’m gonna blow up like a balloon from all the sodium.  Awesome!

Oh…and for pronunciation purposes, Takako’s name sounds like TALKako - the ako part is really fast without any emphasis.  You’re welcome.

Thank you Takako!  For teaching me how to make miso soup and also styling and taking this picture!