Is miso soup really tasty? Yes, but you need to make it correctly
Miso soup is all about dashi (broth) and miso. But unfortunately, most Japanese restaurants in the US ignore both. So the best way to enjoy it is to make it at home.
Most popular dashi (broth) is katsuo (dried bonito) or iriko (also called niboshi, dried anchovy), but kombo (seaweed), dried scallop could also be an option. Katsuo may be the safest choice for a beginner. Iriko has more distinct fishy smell, and kombu is very mild and is often used in tandem with katsuo. Scallop could be more expensive. Be mindful, as many packaged dashi products can contain MSG.
Quality matters for miso. Do not choose too cheap ones. Some are already blended with broth, but I am not sure how good it is.
It’s really simple to make miso soup: boil water, add dashi and ingredients. Most vegetables will work great: spinach, radish, cabbage, onions, kabocha pumpkin, eggplant, sprouts, mushroom and so forth. Tofu, age (deep fried tofu) and wakame (seaweed) are also commonly used. Once all the ingredients are nicely cooked, then you put miso and serve it right away. Miso is a little bit like coffee; its aroma dissipates quickly if you keep boiling it. Reheating is not very good also – and that’s another reason why most casual restaurants serve awful miso soup.
When you make miso soup at home, you can put a ton of ingredients including some protein (most commonly chicken, sliced pork or sea food), and it can be one complete meal…although it’s conventionally considered a side dish.