Think Outside The Box And Stay Healthy With Miso Soup

Think outside the box and stay healthy with miso soupAn infinite world of flavor and texture can be found in a bowl of seemingly simple miso soup.
Cooking expert Yoshiharu Doi suggests going beyond the popular ingredients for miso soup, including tofu, “wakame” seaweed, daikon and “aburaage” (thin slice of deep-fried tofu).

“Actually, you can put in anything,” says Doi, who teaches uncomplicated home cooking on television and other media. “A bowl of ingredient-rich miso soup and a serving of rice is quite enough.”

The 59-year-old cooking expert advocates “ichiju issai” (one soup, one dish), a style of meal consisting of soup and a main dish plus rice.

But he believes people can still stick to a simple combination from the old days, when common people went without a main dish and just ate rice, miso soup and pickled vegetables.

“Even if you eat it every day, you won’t get tired of it and can stay healthy,” Doi says.

The key is having an ingredient-rich miso soup that can be turned into a side dish.

The ingredients can be vegetables, mushrooms, seaweed, soy food, including tofu and deep-fried tofu, bacon, ham and eggs. But ideally, the soup should have a proper nutritional balance.

He even suggests mixing in (and eating) calcium-packed “niboshi” (dried small sardines), which is usually used to give extra flavor to dashi stock. One possible combination could be leftover deep-fried chicken, broccoli, onion, shiitake mushroom and niboshi.

“There is no need to try and make the miso soup look pretty,” Doi says. “This way, you will have fewer foodstuffs that go to waste.”

Deep-fried tofu or bacon will enhance the umami. But always add lots of vegetables to the soup.

“Miso is packed with umami. You can’t go wrong if you let miso do the work. You can say that miso is a key food to staying healthy,” he says.

In addition to salty rice miso, Doi recommends keeping in stock some sweet white miso and bean miso for possible mixing. A bowl of thick miso soup with a dollop of white miso will provide warmth in the winter season.

With so many possible ingredients and varieties of miso, the soup can be eaten solo and may greatly reduce the stress of cooking.

Born in Osaka in 1957, Yoshiharu Doi studied cooking in Switzerland and France before returning to Japan and training at a Japanese-cuisine restaurant called Aji Kiccho.

He set up the Oishiimono Kenkyujo laboratory in 1992 to preach the importance of home cooking. Doi appears on the television programs “Kyo no Ryori” and “Okazu no Kukkingu.” His recent books include “Ichiju Issai de Yoi to iu Teian” (Proposing that one soup and one dish is fine). He is the second son of cooking expert Masaru Doi.

Serves one.


Ingredients for one bowl (such as turnip, pumpkin, green onion, shiitake mushroom, two dried small sardines)

Water for one bowl



Cut turnip, pumpkin, green onion, shiitake or any preferred vegetable into sizes that fit nicely into a bowl.

Place all ingredients and dried sardines in pot, add a bowlful of water and place on heat.

When it comes to a boil, the ingredients are mostly cooked. Add miso (about 1 Tbsp) of your choice, cook for a while.