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Miso soup with bok choy, potato and radish from In Praise of Veg

Servings: 4
Here you’ve got three options: a long-ways broth that gives kombu an overnight soaking and treats every ingredient with care and attention in a way only Japanese cooking can; a medium-ways version that is a bit like an ‘assemble your own’ meal kit; and a short-ways packet version that you can access by skipping straight to the shortcut at the end of the recipe. That’s because the hero here isn’t the broth – it’s the bok choy, its leaves softened without falling to pieces by staying poolside most of the time, just before taking a final dip in hot broth, while the stems cook away until they’re tender enough to bite through, but are still bright with flavour.


  • 2-3 potatoes not too big!, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 30 g bonito flakes
  • 2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms optional
  • 2 bunches of baby bok choy
  • 12 small radishes left whole, or baby turnips, quartered
  • 3-4 tbsp red miso paste or powdered equivalent
  • 1 spring onion finely sliced into rings
  • ½ tsp sesame oil

For the long-ways dashi broth:

  • 2 g kombu 2–3 sheets, depending on the brand; see tip
  • 2 l filtered water

For the medium-ways dashi broth:

  • 2 l filtered water
  • 1 tsp dashi powder


  • If making the long-ways dashi broth, gently brush the kombu sheets with a very mildly dampened cloth, just to shoo off any grit (too much water or friction will wipe off the umami flavour you’re going for). Pop the kombu in an airtight container, pour in your filtered water and leave to soak for at least 4 hours; real diehards leave it overnight.
  • When ready to cook, warm the kombu water in a large saucepan over medium heat, removing the kombu just before the water comes to the boil.
  • If making the medium-ways dashi broth, bring the filtered water to a gentle boil and mix in the dashi powder.
  • Pop the potato, bonito flakes and dried shiitake, if using, into the saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potato is almost fork-tender.
  • Meanwhile, slice the bok choy vertically into quarters or sixths; you want to be able to fish them out of your bowl and eat with company without making too much of a mess. Soak in a big bowl of water until needed.
  • Plop the radish into the broth. Shake the bok choy dry, then arrange them in the saucepan so that the ‘soup spoon’ leaves hang over the rim of the pan and the stalk ends simmer away in the liquid. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the midpoint of the stalk turns a bit translucent. Now tuck the leaves into the broth and remove from the heat.
  • Ladle 250ml of the soup broth into a small heatproof bowl, then mix in the miso paste until dissolved. Pour the mixture back into the pot and sprinkle in the spring onion. Taste for seasoning.
  • Arrange the vegetables in the bottom of your serving bowls, ladle the soup over and finish with a drop or two of sesame oil.


You’ll find kombu at Asian grocers and health food shops, or you can order some good ones online.
Miso soup is such an easy ‘just add hot water’ lunch; simply follow the packet instructions. Go miso soup paste over powder – it’s fresher, and often ‘purer’.

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