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Savory Miso Soup With Napa Cabbage and Shrimp

Unlocking the potential of miso
(Food styling by Corrine Kozlak) (E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune)

Miso paste is a mixture of soybeans, brown rice and barley, and often other grains fermented with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, the same ingredient used to ferment soy sauce and sake. The resulting thick paste is packed with salty goodness, wonderful texture and flavors that carry not only in soup, but in sauces and many other Asian dishes.

This recipe was originially published in The Chicago Tribune.


For the broth

  • 12 Cups water
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1/4 Cup dried seaweed, either wakame or crumbled nori
  • 2 fresh ginger, peeled, quarter-size
  • 2 chicken breast halves, bone-in, skin removed
  • Pinch salt and pepper

For the garnish

  • 2 Cups thinly sliced napa cabbage leaves
  • 1/2 Pound fresh shrimp, or frozen
  • 4-5 Tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 Teaspoons sesame oil
  • Finely chopped fresh cilantro and/or chives


For the broth

Step 1: For the broth, heat 12 cup water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 quartered onion, 2 large sliced carrots, 1/4 cup dried seaweed, 2 slices ginger, 2 chicken breasts and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Heat to a simmer; cook at a simmer, 10-12 minutes.

Step 2: Remove chicken; reserve chicken for another use. Simmer broth, 10 minutes.

For the garnish

Step 1: To finish, add 2 cups napa cabbage and 1/2 pound shrimp; cook, 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Dissolve 4 tablespoons miso paste in ¼ cup of the broth; return mixture to the pot; stir in 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Adjust miso level to taste, using up to 1 additional tablespoon. Serve immediately, garnished with the chopped herbs.