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Hearty Vegetable Miso Soup

Of all the places I’ve been, Japan is most definitely among my favorites.

I was lucky enough to spend five years of my childhood in the country, meaning its culture has greatly impacted the way I learn, communicate, and view the world even to this day. Modern yet traditional, fast-paced yet serene, Japan is a true paradox. And it fascinates me.

On the one hand, the nation is highly efficient and at the forefront of modern technology. If you see something trending in the US, chances are good it was a trend in Japan first. Yet, at the same time the Japanese way of life is also one of tranquility and simplicity of spirit (shibumi), often lacking the urgency, stress, and flamboyance found in Western society. When you walk the streets of Japan, you may feel a sense of calmness and inner peace; this holds true even in a crowded supermarket or while riding on one of the country’s famous speeding bullet trains (shinkansen).

It is a country steeped in history and culture: the shoguns and the samurai, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, anime and cutting edge fashions, martial arts and sumo wrestling… If you ever get a chance to attend a sumo wrestling match, take it! The experience is unlike any other you’ll ever have.

Miso Soup Recipe

And then there is the food…

Honestly, I could branch off and write an entire blog on my love of Japanese cuisine, encompassing everything from the traditional (sushi, yakitori, onigiri) to the not-quite-so-traditional (Pocky!!!).

On a snowy day last week, craving comfort food to counteract the effects of this seemingly-interminable winter, I hibernated in my apartment and created the recipe you’ll find below: a simple-yet-hearty miso soup, to which I added a parade of vegetables and noodles for a one-bowl meal that took me back to childhood. All that was missing was the dezato (Japanese dessert).

Vegan Miso Soup


Hearty Vegetable Miso Soup

  • 5 cups vegetable broth (1200g)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (15g)
  • 1 tbsp powdered or 3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped (170g)
  • 1 1/4 cup carrots, sliced (110g)
  • 2 cups portobello mushrooms, sliced (220g)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup miso, dissolved in 2 tbsp broth (For soy-free, use chickpea miso) (60g)
  • 2 cups raw kale or spinach, optional (100g)
  • cooked soba or noodles of choice, optional

In a large pot, combine the first three ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and add all remaining ingredients except the miso, kale, and noodles. Cover and cook on low for 12 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Turn off the heat and add the kale, stirring until it wilts. Immediately stir in the miso paste. Also stir in noodles if desired. Recipe makes about 8 cups total (without the noodles).

View Nutrition Facts


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Published on March 9, 2014

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Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

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  1. Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen says

    What a wonderful post Katie about Japanese culture! It is definitively a country I’d love to visit one of these days. In the meantime, I LOVE Japanese cuisine and sushi is something I could not live without 🙂 Can’t wait to try this beautiful soup!

    • Erwin says

      Katie is spot on with miso soup. My personal favourite veggie soup combination uses broccoli and baby corn, with a touch of garlic, soya sauce and pepper. yum yum! Button mushrooms, brown mushrooms, enoki (straw mushrooms) and kailan also work well.

      2 things that definitely do not work with miso soup: curry paste, and kimchi. Bad idea.

      ooooh…. I just noticed the various other blog posts on Japan. Yup, with a bit of planning, Japan can be surprisingly inexpensive. (I’m a 7-time visitor to Japan LOL)

  2. Molly says

    Ohhh my gosh I’ve been searching and searching for a good miso soup recipe ever since the last one I tried turned out to be a tasteless disappointment, and this looks delicious. Definitely gonna take a crack at it!

  3. Fran says

    I make a very similar version of vegetable miso soup regularly ! I often add a vegan chicken-soup bouillon as well. Even when I’m aiming for “chicken” soup taste, I can’t forego the miso. It adds such a nice depth to the broth.

  4. kirsten says

    I lived in Misawa Japan for three years, and your blog post perfectly and beautifully captured so much that I miss and appreciate about the Japanese culture. Thanks for both the recipe and the insider’s perspective of Japan

  5. EVA says

    My lifelong dream has always been to go to Japan….of course I’m only 18, but I feel like it’s so expensive to go there that even in the classic traveling age of early 20’s that I still wouldn’t be able to afford it. I’m trying to attempt an art internship there, hopefully a free trip and great experience!

    I’m not sure I’ve ever tried any Japanese dishes due to the fear of them not being gluten free (besides in the past, when my former Navy cousin would send me Japanese candy). I have all but the miso on hand, so I shall check ‘er out! I love it when you post meal recipes.

    • Casey says

      hey, don’t let the thought of money stop you. Going to Japan has been my lifelong dream as well, and I’m finally making it happen this year (at the age of 24). The internship would be fun, and there are also other ways of traveling without having big-vacation expenses. I am going to WWOOF (volunteer on organic farms) or you could wait until after college and get a job teaching English (there are many programs for this).

      Good luck with getting the internship!! don’t let anything stop you 🙂

      • EVA says

        Wow, thanks for the words of wisdom! Volunteering at the organic farms sounds awesome. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to be an English teacher because I don’t know Japanese and I am a TERRIBLE teacher! I’m hoping the Japanese culture will be able to appreciate my art, since manga is huge and I’m a comic book artist.

        And I REALLY hope you have a great time in Japan! Report back on a random comment to tell us all how it went. I EXPECT PICTURES AND LINKS.

        I’m very demanding when it comes to such things.

  6. Stefanie says

    Wow, you make Japan sound exactly as cool as it looks. I hope I get the chance to visit someday! I love a good miso soup with lots of added veggies- awesome recipe! Thanks!

  7. Cara's Healthy Cravings says

    I really loved Japan too! Though I could only stay for a week and a bit, before it started to break the bank! I was living in Korea at the time, so a short visit was quite easy.
    I love any miso based dish, so I am sure that I will love this soup!

  8. Mia (Mia in Germany) says

    You are a wonderful narrator, I loved reading your memories of Japan. Such profound insights in so few lines! Thank you 🙂
    And as some others I’d be excited to see a mochi recipe here one day!

    • EVA says

      I’m no Katie, but you can add them after you finish the recipe since she specifies COOKED noodles. I bet if you let the noodles sit in the pot/bowl covered for a few minutes, they’ll really absorb the flavors.

  9. Ayaka says

    Yay! Makes me feel good whenever I hear people loving Japan!! There are a few great place to get more authentic Japanese Ingredients and, of course, pre-made desserts in DC area that you should try 😉

  10. Casey says

    mmmm that looks so good! I bought some so a noodles recently but haven’t had any good idea of what to do with them. I’ll try this 🙂

    also, if you create a vegan pocky recipe, I will love you forever! (okay, I probably already love you forever, with all the amazing recipes you’ve given me, but I’ll love you forever-er) haha. あなたのブログが大好きです。

    • Casey says

      oh also… I know you lived in Japan when you were a child, but if you have any tips on eating vegan in Japan I’d love to hear them. I’m planning a trip to Osaka this fall 🙂

  11. Sharon says

    Dear Chocolate Covered Katie,
    I realize that you are very passionate about vegan living, and that’s what you have built your awesome blog around. However, I’m concerned for you and wondered if you knew how hazardous grains are to your health. If you have the courage to, please check out “how grains are killing us,” @, also “why grains are bad for you,” @ Mark’s Daily Apple.

  12. Nancy says

    I’ve been trying to figure out the difference between miso and vegetable bullion.
    I’m trying to avoid the soy and could only find chickpea miso from one company online and it was very pricy.

    I follow your blog on rss feed. Love it!

  13. Danielle says

    This looks so delicious! Can’t wait to try it. I am curious about the miso paste amount, since I have never used it before. 1/4 cup dissolved in 2 Tbsp of the broth then added to the pot?

  14. Kat says

    Thank you for posting this recipe. Just yesterday I found Chickpea Miso in a local healthfood store! I have wanted to order some for quite a while but didn’t so when I stumbled on it I got very excited. Came home and today I found your email with this recipe. As soon as I get fresh spinach I will be trying your recipe.

  15. Tara says

    I was lucky enough to visit Japan in the fall and what an experience! Tokyo is unrealistically hi-tech, efficient, and fast paced. Travel an hour or 2 south, and you find the serene countryside you imagine and see in artworks. And the food, of course is unrivaled. Simple ingredients, fresh and delicious. Thank you for this recipe, it’s the perfect answer to a Japanese-inspired craving!

  16. The Delicate Place (@misathemeb) says

    delurking to say yes to all you mentioned! i literally just got back from tokyo 2 wks ago and i am in love! i have a friend from uni who moved there to continue her culinary education and she took us around. it.was.incredible. i bought a bento there and have been making japanese cuisine so much! nothing beats the comfort of traditional japanese brekkie items right? i hope i get to go back someday! i posted a ton of pics on my instagram: @misathemeb

  17. Britters says

    Wow! I just made this and it is better than a restaurant! My husband said its his #2 favorite soup that I make. I added boiled shredded chicken to his. I fiollowed the recipe exactly and it was so simple. Thanks!!

  18. Sherri says

    Thanks for the recipies Katie!
    I’m going to make a slightly different version of this tonight.. I unfortunately didn’t come across good fresh portobello mushrooms that you have listed so I’m using crimini and white. Then, I’m adding zucchini (because I have one that needs to be used), organic carrots of many colors, and finally some spinach. Of course all the seasonings. Plus, I am going to use Trader Joes Miso Ginger Broth and their low sodium vegetable broth and then I’m using fresh rice noodles because my store was out of soba.. I guess I’m blending this soup and your no chicken noodle get well soup.. Happy I recently stumbled upon your site!? can’t wait to try it!!

  19. Kelly says

    I made the recipe and the ginger was a little overwhelming so I’m gonna cut it in half next time but I think it was good besides that.

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