I’ve been perfecting this recipe for Vegan Miso Soup for a few years, playing around with ingredients and proportions to achieve the closest result possible to restaurant-quality miso soup! This is a go-to for me anytime I’m craving something savory and cozy but not too heavy. It’s nutritious and quite easy to make, and I love to enjoy it with steamed rice as a comforting breakfast. I also love to whip up a pot of it when we’re having homemade sushi nights.
Vegan Dashi for Miso Soup
Dashi (出汁) is broth or soup stock that forms the backbone of many Japanese dishes, including miso soup. There are several different types of dashi, made either of dried kelp, shiitake mushrooms, bonito flakes, or anchovies/sardines. Many (but not all) Japanese restaurants serve miso soup prepared with a fish-based dashi. This is what compelled me to establish my own perfect recipe for vegan miso soup.
Konbu (Kelp) Dashi
Konbu (or kombu) is a type of dried kelp that can be most easily found at your local Asian market. It has an oceanic flavor with plenty of umami. Take a piece about 4×4″ in size and steep it in 4 cups of cool water for 3-5 hours to extract the flavors. If you’re in a hurry, you can simmer it for about 10 minutes. Remove it from the water after the 10 minutes, as it can become slimy and bitter if cooked for too long.
Shiitake Mushroom Dashi
This is an ultra-savory dashi made from steeping dried shiitake mushrooms in water. You can purchase dried shiitakes at your local Asian market or online. Then simply steep 5-6 shiitake mushrooms in 4 cups cool water overnight for the best flavor, or steep in boiling water (as with tea) for about 20 minutes if you’re on a time crunch. The shiitakes can be sliced up once rehydrated and added back into the miso soup, or they can be saved for another dish.
I am a lover of shiitakes and I happen to love the flavor of this dashi, but if you’re not a big fan of mushrooms, you might want to try a different dashi option or use fewer mushrooms, because they do have a strong and particular flavor.
Konbu Shiitake Dashi
Get the best of both worlds by combining a smaller piece of konbu (about 2×4″) with 2-3 shiitake mushrooms in 4 cups of cool water overnight (for the best flavor), or steep in boiling water for about 20 minutes. The konbu can be discarded, and the mushrooms can be set aside, or sliced and then added back into the soup for extra flavor and chew.
Quick-and-Easy Vegan Dashi
The final option — which I find myself using most often, due to convenience — is to make a simple vegan dashi using a product like Yondu, which is an all-purpose umami seasoning. Yondu comes with a small recipe booklet which recommends 2 teaspoons of Yondu per 1 cup of water to make a simple dashi. Typically for miso soup, I will cut the amount in half because the miso paste itself is also quite salty, so I will do 1 teaspoon Yondu per 1 cup water. You can play with this ratio to suit how salty you prefer your miso soup.
There are also other vegan dashi powders or granules which I haven’t personally tried and can’t vouch for, but could be worth exploring if you find yourself regularly making vegan miso soup at home!
What Color Miso Paste for Vegan Miso Soup?
You may have noticed that there are several different colors of miso paste at your local Asian market! There are white, yellow, brown, and red varieties, all of which have been aged for different lengths of time and have different proportions of ingredients.
White Miso Paste: My personal preference for miso soup is white miso paste. It has a mellow, smooth, and slightly sweet flavor. If you’re new to cooking with miso, this is a great place to start. It’s very adaptable and can be used in dressings, marinades, and sauces, adding umami without overwhelming the other flavors in the dish.
Yellow Miso Paste: This type of miso is generally fermented slightly longer than white miso paste, often with barley (rather than just rice). It still has a relatively mild flavor, but is slightly saltier and stronger in flavor than white miso.
Red Miso Paste: This variety has a higher percentage of soybeans and has generally been fermented for longer. It has a very deep umami flavor that is more assertive than white miso paste. If you know that you love the fermented flavor of miso, this could be for you.
Vegan Miso Soup
- small pot
- fine mesh sieve
- 4 cups vegetarian dashi recipe follows
- 1 teaspoon wakame seaweed
- 1/2 cup diced tofu pieces
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- 4 tablespoons miso
Easy Vegetarian Dashi
- 4 cups water
- 4 teaspoons Yondu Vegetable Umami Seasoning
Konbu & Shiitake Dashi
- 1-2 strips konbu
- 5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 cups water
(Option 1) Prepare Konbu & Shiitake Dashi
- In a pot, bring water to a boil.
- Add konbu and shiitake mushrooms to pot and take off heat.
- Allow ingredients to steep for at least 20 minutes.
- Fish out konbu and mushrooms and your dashi is done!
(Option 2) Prepare Easy Vegetarian Dashi
- Add water and Yondu to a pot and whisk until combined.
Making the Miso Soup
- Bring your vegan dashi to a simmer.
- Add wakame and tofu and simmer for about 5 minutes to heat tofu through and reconstitute the wakame.
- Stir in the scallions.
- Add in miso paste. To avoid chunks of miso in the soup, you can whisk the miso paste into the soup through a fine mesh sieve. Alternatively, you can whisk the miso with a few tablespoons of water first before adding it to the soup.
- Bring soup back up to a simmer and serve.