A staple of the Japanese diet, miso soup has a salty, savory taste and a smooth, buttery texture. Its base ingredient is miso, a fermented soybean-based paste that consists of soybeans, salt and koji. Koji is a natural fungus used in the fermentation process of many Japanese foods, including soy sauce and sake.
There are different types of miso and each has its own distinct flavor and color. The range of taste and color has to do with the fermenting process, temperature, amount of koji used and the kind of container used to ferment the miso. The lighter miso is smoother and sweeter, while the darker miso is salty and strong. The lighter, or yellow Miso is typically used to make miso soup. Most Japanese recipes call for the addition of silken tofu, green onions and wakame seaweed to give miso soup its unique, flavorful taste.
Drinking miso soup offers many health benefits. Miso is rich in isoflavones, which are natural cancer-fighters, and it is an outstanding source of calcium, potassium, iron and protein. The fermentation process of miso produces beneficial bacteria that help the intestinal tract absorb nutrients. Miso is low in saturated fat and has a cleansing quality to it which helps rid the body of toxins while replenishing it with vitamins and minerals. It is also believed to aid in anti-aging.