Recipe for Miso Soup by Tim Anderson

The American chef shares his accessible version of the broth that is emblematic of ‘umami’, the typically Japanese flavour.


WordsClémence Leleu

‘JapanEasy’, Tim Anderson © Synchronique Éditions

In his book JapanEasy, Tim Anderson invites the reader to cook up a version of the iconic miso soup. Miso is a fermented paste of Chinese origin that is usually salty and is made from soybeans (or rice or wheat). It appeared in Japan in the 17th century and was originally reserved for samurai and nobles, but has since become a key ingredient in the landscape of everyday Japanese cuisine. Some Japanese people eat the eponymous soup at every meal, even at breakfast. Made from miso and dashi, it is the perfect introduction to Japanese cuisine. 

Tim Anderson is an American chef who won the 2011 series of MasterChef UK. Having graduated in 2006 from Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he studied the history of Japanese cuisine, he then lived in Japan for two years, in Fukuoka. He now lives in London, where he runs two Japanese restaurants: Nanban Brixton and Nanban Central. 

Serves 2-4

Difficulty: not at all difficult


4 tablespoons miso (red or barley miso, if possible)

500 ml dashi

1 tablespoon mirin

2 spring onions (scallions)

2 tablespoons dried wakame or a handful of fresh spinach (or both) 

1 cm lemon zest, without the pith, cut into fine strips

350 g firm silken tofu (in a block), cut into cubes

2 pinches toasted sesame seeds 

To garnish: asparagus, courgette, pumpkin, or kale, cut into small cubes, or mussels, coquilles Saint-Jacques, etc. (optional)


Put the miso, dashi, and mirin in a pan and bring to the boil. Cut the white part of the spring onions into 1 cm thick slices and add them to the mixture. Then, chop the green part of the spring onions and set aside for the garnish. 

Lower the heat so the soup is simmering, add the wakame and/or spinach, then cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Now it’s time to add all the decorative elements you wish: asparagus in spring, courgette in summer, squash in autumn, kale in winter, or mussels and coquilles Saint-Jacques all year round. These are optional, but they will add another dimension to the flavour and texture of your soup, which will make it even more delicious. 

Cook the entire mixture for a few minutes more, until the vegetables or seafood become tender, but not soft. Add the lemon zest and remove from the heat. Place the tofu in deep bowls, pour in the soup and garnish with the green part of the spring onions and the sesame seeds.


JapanEasy (2017) is a book written by Tim Anderson and published by Hardie Grant.

© Hardie Grant