Kids Web Japan

Nagano: Miso Soup

Miso soup with tofu

A Classic Dish Full of Nutrients

Miso soup is a healthy and nutritious dish that can be made from whatever ingredients you have on hand. It has been a long-time staple of Japanese family meals. The ingredients for miso soup may change from family to family, but whatever the flavor, Japanese people will agree that there’s nothing like a hot bowl of miso soup to warm your heart.

In Japan, there is a traditional food culture known as Ichiju Issai. It is based on the concept that a healthy meal should be kept very simple: a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, and one side dish. This style of eating became popular when miso soup was invented in Japan, during the Kamakura period (late 12th to mid-14th century). It’s possible this way of eating was considered healthy because miso soup could provide so much nutrition.

Miso is a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting beans. It is easy to digest and full of plant protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Miso is considered to be so good for you that there’s even a Japanese proverb which translates as “Eating miso everyday keeps the doctor away.” Miso soup is an easy and healthy way to enjoy nutritious miso every day.

Miso Making in Nagano

Miso is made from soybeans, salt and koji. Although the ingredients are simple, the flavors can differ greatly depending on the type of ingredient and the amount used. Koji, which is a type of fermentation starter, comes in many varieties like barley, beans, or rice, and the miso will taste differently depending on which is used. There are also regional varieties of miso, ranging from very sweet to very salty, and from creamy white to reddish brown.

Miso made in Nagano Prefecture is called Shinshu miso. It is made from soybeans and rice koji. There are many different types of miso in Japan, but Nagano’s Shinshu miso is the favorite among the largest number of households, and is used in miso soup throughout the country.

There are a lot of miso storehouses and factories in Nagano. Each miso maker has their own way of making the miso to bring out their unique flavors. Some places only use natural spring water to cook the beans, while others ferment the miso in 100-year-old wooden vats. Many factories and warehouses run tours and offer tasting and miso making experiences which are very popular with tourists.

There are more than 100 miso storehouses in Nagano, some of which have been making miso for over 400 years.

Miso Soup is Super Easy

Miso soup is easy to make once you know how. First, you make the stock. Traditionally, stock is made from dried bonito flakes or kombu seaweed, but nowadays many people use a powdered stock, or buy miso which already has the stock added. Once the base is ready, you add your ingredients and simmer until they are cooked. Finally, you add the miso, melting it in the soup.

Some miso soup in Nagano is chock-full of ingredients, especially with their local produce. With seasonal vegetables, flour dumplings, meat, fish, and more, miso soup in Nagano can be a meal in itself! There are even some more unusual varieties of miso soup in Nagano like bamboo shoot and canned mackerel miso soup, and lettuce miso soup.

Miso soup is adaptable to any ingredient. If you come across miso in your local supermarket, why not try making miso soup with your favorite ingredients?