Make your own instant miso soup balls

misoball1.jpg

In some respects I’m a typical Japanese person, since to me there’s nothing as soul-satisfying as a hot bowl of miso soup. At home we have miso soup at least a couple of times a week (see my week of miso soup series for some ideas.) Miso soup with a bento lunch is great too, especially at this time of year when you feel a bit chilly inside even if the roo is heated.

There are many kinds of convenient instant miso soup packs out there. I like to make my own ‘instant’ miso soup balls though. They are dead easy to make. All you need to do is combine about 1 to 2 teaspoonsful (for an average size miso soup bowl) with whatever ingredients you have on hand. All you need is a source of boiling water at lunchtime, which most offices have. Put the miso ball and ingredients in the bowl (or you can use a mug), add hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes while the ingredients expand and flavors amalgamate. This technique is often recommended in Japanese bento books with a healthy or macrobiotic focus, since instant miso soup mixes are often loaded with preservatives and MSG and so on.

You can buy miso with dashi stock already added to it, but I usually just use a regular white miso. You can add a pinch of dashi stock granules to the miso if you need a bit more saltiness and umami.

The basic rules

  • If the added ingredients are salty, use 1 teaspoon miso for an average size miso bowl (which contains about 3/4 cups, or 180ml, of liquid). If the added ingredients are not salted, use 2 teaspoons. Put the miso paste in a twist of plastic wrap.
  • Dried ingredients like wakame and finely chopped up ingredients can be combined directly in the miso.
  • More watery ingredients like spinach leaves should be carried separately (just tuck them in a corner of your bento box).
  • Big dried ingredients should also be carried separately - e.g. komachi-bu, dried wheat gluten.

Some ideas for miso ball miso soups

  • Wakame: 1 miso ball combined with a pinch of dried wakame seaweed
  • Finely chopped green onion with a 2 tsp. miso ball.
  • A small umeboshi with a 1 tsp. miso ball. Interesting sour-salty combo.
  • Baby spinach leaves with 2 tsp. miso ball
  • Shredded lettuce with 2 tsp. miso ball
  • Your favorite furikake with a 1 tsp. miso ball
  • Shredded nori and a 2 tsp. miso ball
  • Komachi-bu is a small form of fu, dried wheat gluten. It expands in hot water, and has an interesting texture. Use with a 2 tsp. miso ball, perhaps with some green onions.
  • Finely cut aburaage (fried bean curd) with a 2 tsp. miso ball
  • A spoonful of mixed frozen vegetables (the classic carrots-and-peas for example) with a 2 tsp. miso ball
  • A spoonful of frozen or canned corn with a 2 tsp. miso ball

There are more exotic (to most people) dried Japanese ingredients that could be used, but I hope this list gets you started. A miso ball soup is only limited by your imagination!

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Wow this is amazing, I

Wow this is amazing, I can’t believe I never thought of it before! I don’t have access to hot water when I lunch but I think my mother will really be pleased with this!

Duh!

I’m starting a new job next week where I’m planning to take my lunch most days (a bento lunch, of course!). While at Katagiri earlier this week, I contemplated buying some instant miso for just the reasons you noted — winter time, soup is lovely, etc.

Now I’m so glad I didn’t — and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this super-simple method! Thank you!

A variation on your miso ball

A bento book I picked up uses the same technique. However, the author sticks a fork in her miso ball then roasts it over a stove burner. Now that I am typing this I am wondering how that affects the taste of the miso…

I like your site a lot and look forward to new posts!

yaki miso

I think I’ve seen that grilling miso technique also. Roasting the miso (yaki miso) would bring out some toasty flavors which would probably be pretty nice. (A bit hard to do for me though since I don’t have a gas range…)

Such a straightforward idea

But one I’d missed doing. Thanks so much!

Thats a great idea! Thanks

Thats a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion =D

refrigerated miso

The miso I can buy locally (at an “international” Pacific type store) in northern Nevada comes in a refrigerated resealable moist pack. How long does miso “keep” in the refrigerator after opening the package? I don’t use it every day…. Thank you.

miso keeps for a long time

Miso is a preserved food, so it keeps for quite a long time in the refrigerator. You should probably try to use it up within a couple of years…but I’ve had miso that’s been kept longer and it was still fine.

Love the idea!

I never thought of making my own miso soup balls! I tried those instant miso soup packets sold at Asian food stores here in Holland but was a bit worried of the chemicals in them. Now that I’ve got the info on the miso soup balls, I’ll never buy instant miso soup again!

Thanks for sharing this fresh idea!

miso soup balls

And here I thought there was a lot of work in the miso soup served in restaurants! After reading your “recipe” and finding out from you (above) that the miso in my refrigerator will keep a long time, I made myself a quick bowl to check it out. Without bonito flakes but using some dried chives and a dash of aji nori furikake and nanami, it was good. Could put a dash of nam pla in it instead, I suppose, and a tiny squirt of sriracha sauce as an experiment. Now a miso ball for soup goes into my insulated bento box for sure! Thank you!!

What about the Dashi-stock?

What about the Dashi-stock? I thought miso soup was dashi-stock, miso paste and with added whatever..?

You mention how much miso to add, but I am curious of where the dashi-stock fits in? Do you just buy instant and add a little to the ball of miso paste? If so, how much? Etc. : ) Thanks, I hope I make sense.

quoting

“You can buy miso with dashi stock already added to it, but I usually just use a regular white miso. You can add a pinch of dashi stock granules to the miso if you need a bit more saltiness and umami.”

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I'm looking through old posts and the basics and I have an idea, can you freeze the miso balls after you make them? I know it lasts along time in the fridge, if I make miso balls can I just keep them in the fridge or freeze them? Just wondering.

Freezing miso balls?

faechildmom wrote:

I'm looking through old posts and the basics and I have an idea, can you freeze the miso balls after you make them? I know it lasts along time in the fridge, if I make miso balls can I just keep them in the fridge or freeze them? Just wondering.

Just like Faechiildmom, I'm wondering about freezing pre-portioned miso balls. And if I rolled it in furikake or chopped nori, it would keep its shape and be easy to handle. I'm thinking about making a bento for a long flight and a hot, homey cup of miso soup would would be a nice addition.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I don't see any reason why miso balls couldn't be frozen. Try it out and let us know how it went!

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Hi Maki-san!
I was wondering... What about adding tofu? Would that work in an "instant" soup like this? I'm figuring maybe if I boiled a bit of water and added the tofu at the same time (but packed separately) that that would work?
Thank you~ <3
Ari

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I think I would carry the tofu separately (and in warm weather, with an ice pack to keep it safe - moist uncooked tofu can go bad pretty fast) and then add it to the miso ball. If you try it let us know how it went!

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I spotted a mention of miso soup balls in the comments of another blog post of Maki's, and this seemed like a brilliant idea. Especially, since I've got good experiences in using ice cream scoops to measure things like meatballs and such, and know there are those similar melon scoops that are about the correct size for these, so I can make them tidy!

I even suspect that these miso balls could be frozen in a silicone ice cube tray, and then plopped in with the veggies for a noodle dish without wrapping in plastic (I'm all about saving packaging material and reusable items), since he does have access to hot water at work, and I don't like packing liquids, as I'm a little apprehensive about how tightly my lunchboxes really do seal...

I'll report in, if I get results. I'll have to drive to another town for my Asian food ingredients, though, so it'll take a while, we only make a trip or two there a month. :(

My fiance works a 3 minute drive from home, but with overtime looming over his shoulder, it sort of makes sense to me to send him into work with a bento again, so although he's hunched over his desk, he can still get a reminder of how much his wifey loves him.

R's meals are often a soup (with protein of some kind, he loves a creamy salmon soup, that doesn't store well, sadly), a carb, and lots of veggies.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Hi there, you have a great blog!!

Okay, I am a newbie and all so please forgive me, but I read this post two times and I don't see the instruction on how you actually make the ball. I was also wondering if there are other things one could try this with besides miso -- like, a chicken broth cube comes to mind here :)

Pardon my silly questions, lol.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

In a nutshell, you mix up all the ingredients, divide into little balls and wrap each ball in cling film; bring one to lunch and add hot water.

Instant soup in a packet or a soup cube would make a soup too, of course. Miso is just more 'natural'.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Thank you dearly for your reply! I'm gonna give this a try!

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Hi,

I was just wondering if it was possible to put in a pinch of chicken stock powder rather than dashi stock?

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

A company called Justtomatoes (www.justtomatoes.com) carries dried assorted vegetables... I imagine that would be awesome in a combination of miso, etc.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I feel like I see lots of comments on this blog's post with questions but maybe not so many saying "I tried this and it was awesome!"

So I am here to say, I tried this and it was awesome! I just put a maybe-generous teaspoon of miso (dark, because that is what I have) in a mason jar with a whole big pile of rinsed salted wakame and a bit of green onion. Then I added hot water at lunch, and it was delicious -- and I didn't even find the wakame to be intolerably slimy! :D

YUM. It's summer now (almost) but my office is often cold, so a very good lunch :)

Awesome idea

This is awsome because i usually have salmon , rice and miso soup in the morning and i need a single serving miso soup idea. How much water do you add?

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

I made this a couple times this week for my bento and it was pretty good.
I put 2 teaspoons of the miso paste, some chives, tofu, and crumbled nori in plastic wrap and just added hot water and it came it out pretty good.
I have a fridge at my work so the tofu won't spoil.
Can't wait to try this with some of the other suggested ingredients that I still don't have yet.
Thank you for your recipe!

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Sorry to ask a question on such an old post! I was wondering, how would dried shiitakes work here? Would you have to store it separately from the miso ball, or could it go into the ball directly along with chopped wakame, dried onion bits and the like? And once the hot water is added to the ingredients, would you have to let it sit longer than usual to reconstitute the mushrooms? Thanks in advance!

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

The usual dried shiitake mushrooms are very dry and dessicated, so you'd have to soak them for some time in water to reconstitute them. The type you get in commercial instant miso or other soup mixes has been treated to re-constitute much faster. So if you want to use dried shiitake, I'd suggest reconstituting and cooking it first at home - maybe in a little soy sauce/mirin mix, then maybe adding that to your soup at lunchtime.

Re: Make your own instant miso soup balls

Thanks so much!

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