Gingery miso mushroom bok choy soup is a light yet satisfying way to warm up most any time of year. And it’s vegan, unlike the miso soup that’s served in Japanese restaurants, which often contains bonito (a fish product).
This easy, quick recipe uses two kinds of mushrooms, silken tofu, and bok choy, with an option of adding other tender greens and/or noodles.
That’s right — miso soup served as a first course in Japanese restaurants is often made with fish flakes (bonito). Not always, but more often than not, so make sure to ask.
Serving tips for Gingery Miso Bok Choy Soup
Like other Asian-style soups, this one is best eaten as soon as it’s made. Unlike many other soups, it doesn’t benefit from long simmering or being refrigerated overnight.
By embellishing the soup with the optional add-ins listed in the notes section of the recipe box, it becomes the a centerpiece of a meal.
For this round that you see in the photos, I added a few stalks of baby bok choy and some cilantro. You can use the other kind of bok choy — with the large white stalks and dark leaves as well (or really, any variety of bok choy).
Complete the meal: This is a fantastic soup to serve as a first course with Asian-style rice or noodle dishes. For a nice hot/cold contrast, choose from one of these Asian-inspired cold noodle dishes. For extra fun, add vegetable sushi rolls or veggie spring rolls to the meal.
More about miso
Salty and pungent, miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans. It adds a robust flavor to soups and sauces. Natural foods stores are more likely to carry it than supermarkets.
Note that once miso is added to soup or any other preparation, it shouldn’t be boiled, or else its beneficial enzymes will be destroyed. Miso comes in several varieties, of which these are the basics: pure soybean; soybean with barley; and soybean with rice.
Soybean (hatcho) miso is the most intense; rice varieties, of which there are several, are the mildest; and barley (mugi) miso falls somewhere in the middle. Shiro miso is a variety of mild, yellowish miso sometimes labeled “mellow white miso.”
Which to choose is entirely up to you and your palate. Because they’re aged and fermented, miso and tempeh are considered the two healthiest and most digestible forms in which to enjoy soy foods. See more about miso in our Guide to Miso.
Explore more …
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- 6 cups water
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger, or more to taste
- 8 or so fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 6 ounces cremini (aka baby bella bella) mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and sliced
- 4 to 6 large stalks bok choy (stems sliced, leaves chopped), or 2 to 3 baby bok choy, sliced
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
- 12.5-ounce carton extra firm silken tofu, cut into 1/4-inch dice (see Note)
- Optional add-ins (see in Notes)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons miso, any variety, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Combine the broth with the ginger and mushrooms in a small soup pot and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the bok choy, scallions, tofu and any of the optional add-ins listed in Notes, below, and heat gently until piping hot.
- Dissolve the miso in enough water to make it smooth and pourable. Use the lesser amount if you’re unfamiliar with miso’s strong, salty flavor — you can always add more.
- Stir the dissolved miso into the soup. If the soup is too crowded, and water (and more miso) as needed and heat through gently. Don’t boil once the miso is in the soup, as that will destroy its beneficial enzymes.
- Season with pepper and serve at once.
To add even more texture and flavor to the soup, add any one or more of the ingredients on this list. With more ingredients in the soup, you’ll need to use 1 to 2 cups additional water. Adjust the flavor with more dissolved miso if need be, plus extra pepper and/or ginger.
- Chopped fresh cilantro (1/4 to 1/2 cup — stir it in, or use as a topping)
- 2 cups or so finely shredded romaine lettuce
- White turnip or daikon radish, about 1 cup, finely diced or grated
- Chopped spinach or arugula, or leafy Asian greens like tatsoi or mizuna (a big handful or two)
- 2 to 4 ounces soba, bean thread, or fine Asian rice noodles, cooked separately and cut into shorter lengths
If you like this light Asian-style soup, you might also enjoy …
See lots more vegan soups & stews.