Miso Soup Bar with Jenni Kayne and ripplustan.com

Miso Soup Bar with Jenni Kayne | pamela salzman

I have always been a huge fan of a toppings bar for several reasons.  I’ve noticed my kids tend to eat more of whatever I’m serving when they can control what goes on their plate.  I also think it’s so much more fun when your guests can participate in and interact over the meal.  Lastly, preparing a topping bar ahead of time allows the cook (me and you) to be free and enjoy themselves rather than worrying about timing everything perfectly and accommodating everyone’s different dietary restrictions.

miso soup bar with jenni kayne and pamela salzman

I have shown on this site topping bars for everything from oatmeal to baked potatoes, from salads to tacosJenni Kayne was telling me one day about her ski trip and how much she loved the soup bar at the ski lodge for lunch.  Let’s do a Miso Soup Bar post!  Great idea!  Today’s post is also up on her fantastic blog Rip + Tan, too.  We shot this at Jenni’s amazing house after a class one day.  Of course she had a few dozen perfect bowls to use for all the ingredients!

Miso soup is so healing, really easy to make and my whole family loves it.  Miso paste has a rich, savory, umami-like quality about it.  But I am pretty particular about what kind of miso to buy, so please read my tips.

·      Miso is fermented so therefore it contains healthy bacteria which helps our digestive system and immune system.

·      It is a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids.

·      High in antioxidants, so it is anti-aging (yay!)

·      Miso is alkalizing to our cells and tissues.

·      It contains linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps you maintain beautiful healthy skin.

·      The isoflavones in miso can help regulate hormones.

·      The sodium in miso does not have a negative affect on the cardiovascular system like table salt does.

·      There is an acid present in miso called zybicolin that helps detoxify the body and eliminate elements taken in through pollution, radioactivity, and artificial chemicals in our soil and foods.

·      Miso is a good source of the B12 vitamin, which is a B vitamin most commonly found in fish and land animals, so important for vegetarians and vegans.


Here are some do’s and don’ts for buying and preparing miso:


  • Buy organic or at least non-GMO (genetically-modified organism) since the main ingredient is soybeans which are almost always GMO, unless certified organic.
  • Buy miso that is naturally fermented (look on the label to make sure there is a bacteria, on the list of ingredients).  Fermented soy is much easier to digest then non-fermented and fermented foods, in general, increase the concentration of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotic organisms aid in digestion, and also play an important role in maintaining and strengthening the immune system.
  • Buy unpasteurized miso, so it’s live.
  • Substitute miso for dairy products such as parmesan (but leave out the salt in the recipe) cheese.  See this pesto recipe as an example
  • Store in your fridge for months, even a year and a half!


  • Boil miso- it will destroy the live enzymes.  Always add miso at the last minute, off the heat.
  • Assume miso is gluten free- it often can contain barley and/or other gluten grains.  Check ingredients.
  • Buy miso outside the refrigerated case at the supermarket.  It won’t be live.  Unpastuerized, and therefore refrigerated, miso contains live good bacteria, which help your body assimilate nutrients from food.

Different types of miso: The different colors of miso are related to how long the miso was fermented and the composition of ingredients (usually rice or barley).   White miso is fermented for the shortest period of time and has the lightest/sweetest flavor, followed by yellow, and then red.  Brown miso has fermented for the longest period of time and has the strongest/saltiest flavor.

topping bar for miso soup | pamela salzman

For the soup bar, we had all the toppings assembled before the broth was even made since that took literally minutes to prepare.  We settled on the assortment of ingredients you see in the images.  Clockwise from the miso in the small bowl on the left:

Organic White Miso (we used Miso Masters)

Sprouted Organic Tofu (we used Wildwood Organics)


Bean Sprouts


Wakame (seaweed)

Udon noodles

Soba noodles (100% buckwheat from Eden Organics)

enoki mushrooms (brown and white)

center:  scallions

Other great ideas for toppings include, but aren’t limited to, soft-boiled eggs, cooked shrimp or pork, shelled edamame, cabbage, spinach, bok choy.  Have fun!

miso soup bar | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Miso Soup
Serves: 4
  • 4 ¼ cups of water
  • 1 (6-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup dried bonito flakes (These are smoked, dried flakes of fish. Optional, but delicious)
  • ½ cup rehydrated wakame (soak according to package directions and chop, if necessary)
  • 4 Tablespoons organic and unpasteurized miso (I use white)
  • Shoyu or tamari to taste, if desired
  • Toppings, if desired: grated carrots, thinly sliced mushrooms, scallions, baby spinach, cubes of firm tofu, cooked shrimp or pork, soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, seaweed
  1. Make the dashi (broth): In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and kombu to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the bonito flakes. Cover the pan and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl or another saucepan. If you are not using the stock immediately, allow to cool uncovered and then refrigerate it, covered for up to a week.
  3. Transfer all but ½ cup of stock back to the original saucepan and heat until hot.
  4. Whisk miso into the reserved ½ cup of stock until smooth. If you think you will consume all of the soup now, stir all of the miso mixture to the heated stock and serve immediately. Otherwise, add a spoonful of the miso mixture to each individual bowl and ladle hot stock on top. Add desired toppings.
Miso is a live food.  In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.


Homemade ramen noodle soup recipe

homemade ramen noodle soup | pamela salzman

Since my oldest child started college this past fall, it’s been hard not to compare everything at her school to what I had when I was in college.  I do my best not to sound like, “When I was in college, we had to use quarters in the washing machines and we had to wait for our laundry to be finished.  No text alerts back then!”  Although now that I think about it, I met my future husband in the laundry room while we were both waiting for our laundry to finish!  Ha!  Of course, I am so food-centric, I pay close attention to dining hall options and food choices in the area around my daughter’s campus.  And let me tell me you, back when I was in college, there was no juice and smoothie bar in the dining hall for breakfast.  There was, however, an all-you-can-eat supply of Quaker granola, sugar cereals and hydrogenated peanut butter!  It’s no wonder I gained about 20 pounds in college.

ingredients for homemade ramen noodle soup

My roommate freshman year blew my mind with this instant noodle soup concoction that she made in our room every day.  I could not believe, especially coming from an Italian home where we ate fresh pasta multiple times each week, how she could just pour hot water into a cup and it would turn into a tasty noodle soup.  She called it ramen noodle soup, to be exact.  Many years later I discovered that this instant meal was probably one of the worst things anyone could eat.  (I really should check up on this girl to make sure she’s still ok!)  Between the myriad of MSG and MSG-derivatives, the seasonings in the mixture also contain preservatives, chemicals, food coloring and other inexplicables.  To make things worse, I just found out recently that instant ramen noodles are deep fried and dehydrated.  Deep fried foods are also among the worst things you can eat.  Therefore, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that instant ramen noodle soup is a DISASTER.

make your own seasoning packet

So, since I have a lot of college kids following my blog and Instagram now, I thought I should share my version of a quick ramen noodle soup recipe.  I looked at some seasoning packets from “healthier” soup packets and saw a few ingredients that showed up regularly — onion powder, garlic powder, miso powder, shoyu powder, and ground ginger.  I could do that!  So I played around with a few proportions and came up with the recipe here.

dissolve the miso separately and add to the finished soup

I also did a little research into authentic ramen noodle soups (like the kind that use fresh, homemade noodles), and learned that most of the broths are pork, veggie or a seaweed and bonito (fish)-base.  But I think if you want to use chicken stock, you should!  When I taught the soup in my classes, I used homemade vegetable stock.  I found a great ramen noodle called Koyo that is baked, not fried.  But feel free to use any noodle you want.  Lotus Foods makes a gluten-free noodle which is good.  I also kept it simple with toppings, but really the sky’s the limit.  You can add cooked chicken, pork or shrimp.  I love adding a halved hard or soft boiled eggs.  Veggies that are great include bean sprouts, spinach, green onions, shredded carrots, bok choy or whatever you have on hand recently.  You can really make this into a meal!

homemade ramen noodle soup | pamela salzman

I think what many of my students found appealing though, was how fast this came together and that it is quite kid-friendly.  I know so many of you are struggling with rather cold temperatures and I think this would be the perfect thing to whip up for lunch or dinner to warm up!

homemade ramen noodle soup | pamela salzman

homemade ramen noodle soup | pamela salzman

homemade ramen noodle soup recipe
  • 5 cups (1 quart + 1 cup) vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 ramen noodle cakes* (see note above)
  • 3 Tablespoons shoyu or gluten-free tamari (I like Ohsawa brand)
  • pinch sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon + a pinch garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon + a pinch ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons dry wakame flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons white or yellow miso
  • handful of baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup scallions, green and white parts, sliced
  • other suggestions: thinly sliced mushrooms or bok choy (add to pot with noodles), bean sprouts, halved hard boiled egg, cooked shredded chicken or pork, cooked shrimp (add to the soup bowl), chili garlic sauce
  1. Place the vegetable stock in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the noodles, shoyu, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, and wakame flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the ramen noodles are soft.
  3. Pour a ladle-full of stock into a bowl and add the miso*, whisk until smooth and then pour back into the stockpot.
  4. Stir in a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves until wilted.
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions. Serve as is or with additional accompaniments as suggested above.
Feel free to adjust measurements based on your taste. I originally taught the soup with more seaweed because I really like it, but I don't think everyone liked it as much as I do, so I reduced the amount. Of course you can leave it out altogether if you wish! Also, some noodles are starchier than others, which means they will thicken up the soup a bit. If you want to avoid that, cook the noodles separately and dived them up between the bowls and pour the soup on top.

Miso is a live food.  In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.

*Try to buy a brand where the noodles are baked, not fried, like Koyo or Ka-me.  If you use gluten-free noodles, boil them in a separate pot since they’ll make the soup too starchy.

Miso-Glazed Black Cod Recipe

miso-glazed black cod | pamela salzman

Am I the only one who reads cookbooks like novels?  Sometimes it’s embarrassing when I am asked “what are you reading?” because my nightstand is stacked with cookbooks, nutrition books and cooking magazines.  Of course it’s inspiring to look at new recipes and techniques, but more than that I find it relaxing.  A cooking nerd I most definitely am.


I was super excited to dig into Laurie David’s new cookbook, “The Family Cooks.”  I recently had the opportunity to meet Laurie at a party for the launch of her new book.  I think she is such a powerhouse and I love her message about making time to cook from scratch and eating together as a family.  I’m so on her wavelength.  All her recipes look good, but since she urged me to make the miso-glazed cod first, I didn’t waste any time.

grate the peeled ginger


grated ginger

The first time I had miso cod was many years ago at a very fancy restaurant in LA called Nobu.  The cod is so silky, it just melts in your mouth and has a little sweet-salty thing going on which is my favorite flavor combo.  This recipe is very similar although I appreciate Laurie’s use of maple syrup over processed cane sugar.  It is a very impressive dish, yet it only takes minutes to prepare and uses very few ingredients.  I also love that you can marinate it for a whole day if you want and then all you have to do is broil it before din

submerge in the marinade

I am always looking to expand our fish repertoire with good sustainable options.  We tend to eat a lot of wild salmon, wild halibut and (when my husband is not home for dinner) wild shrimp.  Whenever I want to know what the current status is for a particular fish, I go to seafoodwatch.org, an organization which helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. Their recommendations indicate which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.”  Black cod, which is also known as sablefish, is considered to be a “best choice.”  The whole family (except Daughter #2 who still doesn’t eat most fish and didn’t try this) loved it.  Serve with a simple steamed rice or cauli-rice, and a green vegetable and you have an easy, delicious and healthful dinner.   I made it recently with a kelp noodle salad and some sautéed beet greens!

under the broiler

perfectly cooked

There are a few ingredients that you may not normally have on hand, namely miso, a fermented soybean paste, and mirin, a sweet rice wine.  Both are easy to find in many grocery stores and they have a very long shelf life so you have plenty of time to make this recipe again!


5.0 from 3 reviews
Miso-Glazed Black Cod
Serves: 4
  • ⅓ cup white miso, preferably organic
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup or honey (I like maple syrup)
  • ⅓ cup mirin
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted unrefined sesame oil
  • 4 pieces (6 ounces each) skinless black cod fillet, also known as sablefish
  1. In a bowl or glass pie plate just large enough to hold the fish, whisk together the miso, maple syrup, mirin, ginger and sesame oil.  Place the fish in the bowl and spoon the marinade on top of the fish to cover it completely.  Cover the bowl with a plate and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  The longer you can do this, the better the fish will taste.
  2. Before cooking the fish, preheat the broiler and position your oven rack about 6 inches from the heat.  I place the rack on the level the second from the top.
  3. If you don’t have a stainless steel baking sheet, line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  4. Pull the fish from the bowl and shake off any excess marinade clinging to the fish.  Place the fish on the baking sheet and broil until the glaze is dark and shiny and the fish flakes when you press on it, about 6-8 minutes.

Miso soup recipe

I think the reason I started cooking at such a young age is because I love to eat good food.  My mother was and is a terrific cook, but she didn’t have time or the interest to really experiment in the kitchen, especially outside the Italian food comfort zone that she was in.  So when I was in the mood for something that my mom didn’t know how to make, I would grab a stack of her cookbooks and a couple years worth of Gourmet Magazine and flip through until I found what I was looking for.  I could get lost for hours reading recipes and then coming up with my plan.  How much easier we have it now with the internet, although I can still get lost for hours on cooking websites!

One of the simple pleasures in life for me is finding out that something I love to eat in a restaurant is incredibly simple to make at home.  We don’t eat out very much, but the kids love their annual birthday dinner at Benihana and I look forward to sushi out with my girlfriends every now and then.  When I am at a Japanese restaurant, I love starting my meal with a comforting bowl of miso soup.  You may remember from my post on Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing how beneficial unpasteurized miso is to the digestive system as well as being a wonderful detoxifier.  Of course, I love the salty savoriness of it, too!  Many years ago I decided to figure out how to make miso soup with the preconception that it would be difficult.  For goodness sake, it’s about as easy as boiling water.  In fact, when I taught this miso soup recipe in a class a few years ago, more than one person remarked that it was easier than cooking pasta (and better for you, too!)

I typically make miso soup the way you would find it in a Japanese restaurant in the US, except for the canned fried onion crisps.  What’s up with that?  Do they add those to miso soup in Japan?  Somehow I’m doubting it.  Regardless, I always add wakame, which is an amazingly nutritious sea vegetable that you need to try if you haven’t.  It’s so high in minerals and incredibly alkalizing — go get some!  I love the wakame flakes by Eden since they rehydrate in minutes and there’s no chopping involved.  If I have tofu in the fridge, I’ll add that and perhaps some thinly sliced green onion.  The day I photographed this soup, Mr. Picky asked for soba noodles, so I tossed a few into his bowl.  Steamy Kitchen has a version with shiitake mushrooms and sliced boy choy that looks great.  Like me, she enjoys soup for breakfast!

Some of the ingredients may seem exotic or hard to find, but I assure you no good natural food store worth their sea salt doesn’t carry unpasteurized miso and a good selection of sea vegetables.  In fact, I found everything at my local Whole Foods.  The only ingredient that may throw some of you, especially my vegetarian and vegan friends is the bonito flakes, which are made from a type of mackerel that has been steamed, dried and shaved into flakes.  It adds a really cool smoky, hearty undertone to the soup.  But if it’s not your thing, I would add a drop of shoyu or simmer the stock with some dried shiitakes to make up for omitting the bonito.  No matter how you prepare it, this just might be the easiest and most healthful bowl of soup you never thought you could make.

Miso Soup
Serves: 4
  • 4 ¼ cups of water
  • 1 (6-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup dried bonito flakes (optional, but delicious)
  • ½ cup rehydrated wakame (soak according to package directions and chop, if necessary)
  • 6 ounces firm non-GMO tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 Tablespoons organic and unpasteurized miso (I use white. But check labels if you need the miso to be gluten-free.)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion greens
  • Shoyu or tamari to taste, if desired
  1. Make the dashi (broth): In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and kombu to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the bonito flakes. Cover the pan and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl or another saucepan. If you are not using the stock immediately, allow to cool uncovered and then refrigerate it, covered for up to a week.
  3. Transfer all but ½ cup of stock back to the original saucepan and add tofu and wakame, if using, and heat until hot.
  4. Whisk miso into the reserved ½ cup of stock until smooth. If you think you will consume all of the soup now, stir all of the miso mixture to the heated stock and serve immediately. Otherwise, add a spoonful of the miso mixture to each individual bowl and ladle hot stock on top. You can add noodles to each individual bowl, if you like.
Miso is a live food. In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.

Creamy miso-ginger dressing

When I was at Whole Foods the other day, at I was amazed by the dozens of people cradling ingredients for the big Cleanse.  I can’t imagine choosing to drink lemon juice and maple syrup mixed with cayenne pepper even once, let alone for several days straight in order to detoxify my body.  Sorry peeps, no cleanse recipes here!  I hate to disappoint you if you were expecting instructions on how to starve yourself cranky, but why not just eat clean, real food?  I know, it’s not a fad and we are obsessed with fads, especially diet-related.  If a cleanse is the only way for some people to break some bad habits, then ok.  But I haven’t seen any research-based evidence that our bodies need such a crazy drink to get rid of toxins.  In fact, I actually think it’s pretty cool how efficient our bodies can be at eliminating toxins, provided we don’t overload our systems non-stop.  Just a thought.

I personally have never done a “cleanse.”  I really don’t do well when I’m told there are entire food groups that are off limits.  So I indulge a little more than normal during the holidays, but then I make a commitment to start eating normally again.  I especially like to pay particular attention to vegetables which never seem to be controversial in any diet, new or old.  I think it’s pretty unanimous advice that we should be consuming loads of vegetables.  In the winter I eat fewer raw vegetables since they tend to be more cooling to the body, but I do love my salads.  So to “warm” them up a bit, I like to make this delicious cream-less dressing which is based on fresh gingerroot and miso.  Ginger is perfect for winter since it’s warming to the body, and did you know it’s incredibly anti-inflammatory?  Fresh ginger has a real hot and spicy kick to it, so a little goes a long way.  I found that out the hard way when I juiced a big piece of ginger once with some kale and celery and I thought my eyes would pop out of my head.  Peel it like I did here with a vegetable peeler and then get into the hard-to-reach spots by scraping the peel with a small spoon.

Although most of you are likely familiar with ginger, I don’t meet a lot of people who know what miso is or how to use it.  It’s your lucky day!!  Miso is a fermented soybean paste made by combining cooked soybeans, mold (called koji), salt and various grains.  Then it’s fermented for 6 months to several years.  There are dozens of varieties of miso, as well as different colors from pale beige.  As you would imagine, each type has its own distinctive flavor ranging from meaty and savory to sweet and delicate.  In general, the darker and deeper the color, the longer the miso has been fermented and the richer the flavor.  The first time I tasted miso straight out of the tub, it reminded me of parmesan cheese, which is how I came to use miso to make a vegan/dairy-free pesto.

I usually buy the white miso to make soup and use in sauces and dressings, like this one.  It seems to be the most versatile, although a word of caution — not all miso pastes are gluten-free.  Miso is a live food with many microorganisms that are beneficial to your digestion.  That said, you must only buy unpasteurized, refrigerated miso and you must avoid boiling it otherwise you will kill the good bacteria.  Since most soy in this country is genetically modified, also look for miso labeled “organic” or at least “non-GMO.”  I prefer to buy miso sold in glass jars, like South River Miso, but I can’t always find it, so Miso Master packaged in this plastic tub is the next best thing.  My family has eaten at enough Japanese restaurants and Benihanas to know what miso soup and miso salad dressings are, so that’s how I introduced miso at home.  It’s always easier for me to present a “health food” to the kids if it looks reasonably familiar, and most importantly, if it’s delicious.  Because for this girl, deprivation ain’t no way to welcome a brand new year.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Mixed Greens with Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing
Serves: 6
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 2 Tablespoons unpasteurized organic white miso
  • 2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped, peeled fresh ginger (use less for a more subtle ginger flavor)
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces mixed baby greens
  • Optional vegetables: thinly sliced radishes, julienned carrots or sweet bell peppers, sliced avocado, thinly sliced unpeeled Japanese cucumber
  1. Puree all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste for salt.
  2. Place greens and any vegetables you are using in a serving bowl. Add enough vinaigrette to coat lightly and gently toss.
You can also use this dressing on top of poached or roasted fish, lightly cooked broccoli or greens with brown rice, and quinoa salads.

Fresh ginger freezes really well. Peel it first, then tightly wrap it before storing it in the freezer. Allow it sit on your countertop a few minutes before cutting it. It is not a good idea to use a ceramic knife to cut frozen ginger (ask me how I know this.)