In the United States, miso soup is generally considered little more than a side dish for sushi. But in Japan, people commonly eat miso soup for breakfast. It's a meal dating back centuries, and though there are many variations on the type of miso soup eaten at breakfast, it's low-key the cheapest, easiest vegan breakfast you can make in the morning. Yes, I said vegan, even though, at its most traditional, miso soup isn't technically vegan. That's because the soup base is dashi, a simple yet savory broth that's made by boiling dried kelp and bonito flakes—and these dried, fermented slivers of fish that are decidedly not vegan.
But if you're looking for the cheap, easy and vegan recipe for miso soup, simply skip the bonito flakes. You don't even really need to use the dried kelp, called wakame, if you're really looking to cut steps and ingredients. (It should be noted here, though, that a package of the stuff is also available on Amazon for a very reasonable $4.50, and using it doesn't add too much extra time to the recipe.)
Miso soup makes for an admittedly simple breakfast, but that's part of the appeal, especially since easy doesn't have to mean unhealthy. This soup also packed with protein, thanks to all the soybeans, and that'll help keep you full until lunch. Plus, miso itself is a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin K, protein, and zinc—all necessary nutrients in a balanced vegan diet. You can even add whatever leftover vegetables you might have on hand, like mushrooms, snow peas, even carrots and potatoes, for some extra fiber and flavor.
Miso soup is filling, delicious, and even portable if you need it to be. (Seriously. Just pour it into a to-go mug before you walk out the door.) It's also cost-effective. You can order over a pound of miso paste on Amazon for less than $10, and that's good for about 20 servings of soup. The best part might be that making good miso soup for breakfast, or any meal, really, isn't that complicated. All you need are a few basic ingredients, a pot, a spoon, and about 10 minutes.
About ½ cup soft tofu, cubed (but really, use as much or as little as you want)
Sliced vegetables, like carrots or potatoes or snowpeas or mushrooms, whatever you've got in the fridge (optional)
Scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
How to Make It
Put water in pot to boil. If you're bothering to make dashi, throw in a few pieces of wakame, and simmer for about five minutes. If you're not using wakame, skip to the next step.
Once water is hot, add cubed soft tofu and simmer until everything is hot. Now would also be the time to add any vegetables that you have on hand.
Take the pot off the stove, and stir in miso paste. I recommend starting with about a tablespoon and a half, but feel free to add a little more or less, depending on how strong you want your soup and what kind of miso you're using. I personally prefer red miso, which has a stronger, funkier, and more fermented flavor, but if you like your miso on to mild side, give yellow a shot.
Pour the soup into a mug or a bowl or whatever vessel you have on hand, top with those thin slices of scallion if you're into it.