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.
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).
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).
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Mochi recipe next time? 😉
Crystal @ Confessions of Crystal says
Ohhh…yes, please! Mochi green tea ice cream is my absolute favorite food on the planet. 🙂 I’m vegetarian but not vegan so I can enjoy commercial mocha, but it would be nice to have a healthier, less-sugary version!
what a profound speculation on foreign culture!
On cold, snowy days, I like to cook with lentils! http://kellytoups.com/2013/09/27/lentil-love/ I also love this lentil soup: http://instagram.com/p/j0O4ISOhHJ/
Christine (The Raw Project) says
How cool on your experiences in Japan, visiting is on my travel wishlist. And this recipe looks wonderful, perfect for a chilly day. Thanks!
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!
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)
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!
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.
Thank you for this! It will be perfect for me. 🙂
I love Japanese food; I’d love living over there… This soup sounds great, Pinned!
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
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
Nikki @ The Road to Less Cake says
This soup looks right up my street.
What noodles are those in the pictures?
YUM. Do you cook the (soba) noodles completely separately and just add them in at the very end!?
Chocolate Covered Katie says
Very end. Sorry, post updated!
i should definitely give this it a try. it looks so yummy. this is my kind of food.
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!
Looks amazing! I was in DC last week for a field trip, and loooved it!
What type of miso? The recipe doesn’t specify. Thanks.
I’m also wondering way kind of miso you prefer to use for this recipe.
Chocolate Covered Katie says
I’ve done it with both red and white, and both are delicious.
B c says
Is there a brand you find better than others?
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!
When do you add the noodles?
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.
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 😉
Yum Yucky says
Looks so good. I want it!
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。
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 🙂
Wow, Katie, you could be a travel writer too! Japan sounds amazing, and so does this soup. 🙂
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,” @ wellnessmama.com, also “why grains are bad for you,” @ Mark’s Daily Apple.
Linda Rost says
It says “stir in the miso paste”. Do you mean pasta? Please let me know.
I’m certain she means stir in the miso paste. The cooked noodles would be added in afterwards
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!
Chocolate Covered Katie says
Sorry, I haven’t tried the recipe with bullion, so I really can’t predict the results. But of course you are welcome to experiment! 🙂
Nancy, miso and bullion are completely different products. Miso is fermented, which means it contains healthy probiotics. Probiotics aren’t found in bouillon. Bullion only adds flavor. Be careful not to boil miso if you use it!
Nancy Rector says
Thanks Carie for that detailed info. That was more what I was after. Ü
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?
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.
I would absolutely love it if you shared more Japanese recipes. Thank you for this one! 🙂
Very good recipe. I am new to using miso, kale and portobello mushrooms.
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!
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
I added tofu and cabbage. Yum!
Don’t you mean 2 tbsp of miso paste in 1/4 cup broth? 🙂
Wow such an easy yet delicious recipe! Thanks 🙂
I just made a pot of this and it is delicious!
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!!
Do you include the noodles/spinach in the nutrition facts?
Can I use extra vegetables instead of mushrooms in this soup? I’m not a fan of mushrooms.
Unofficial CCK Helper says
Sure, why not?
I grew up immersed in Japanese culture as well, through my dad’s navy days.:-) soup looks wonderful, Katie.
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!!
How many servings does this make??
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.