Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made with a fermented soybean paste called miso. It’s a staple of Japanese cuisine and is commonly served alongside rice as part of a typical Japanese breakfast. But when watching your calorie intake, you may be wondering just how many calories are in a typical bowl of miso soup.
In this article, we’ll break down the calories and nutrition info for miso soup to help you determine if it fits into your diet. We’ll look at the calories in the individual ingredients that make up miso soup as well as calories for a full bowl. We’ll also explore how you can tweak your miso soup to make it higher or lower in calories.
Calories in Miso Paste
The main ingredient that contributes calories and nutrition to miso soup is, unsurprisingly, the miso paste itself. Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans, salt, and koji rice. This fermentation process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years depending on the type of miso being made.
There are a few different varieties of miso with differing nutrition profiles:
- White miso: Made with soybeans fermented with rice koji for a short time, white miso is sweet and mild. A 1 tablespoon serving of white miso has roughly 25 calories.
- Yellow miso: Fermented for a medium length of time, yellow miso strikes a balance between sweet and salty. It also has about 25 calories per tablespoon.
- Red miso: Fermented for the longest amount of time, red miso is more salty and savory. It contains around 30 calories per tablespoon.
- Awase miso: A blend of red and white miso, awase miso has about 28 calories per tablespoon.
So in general, you’re getting 25-30 calories from a single tablespoon of miso paste. Since a typical miso soup recipe calls for around 1-3 tablespoons of miso, this contributes anywhere from 25-90 calories just from the miso itself.
Calories in Dashi
Dashi is the savory Japanese broth that provides the base for miso soup. There are a couple main types of dashi:
- Kombu dashi: Made by steeping dried kelp (kombu) in water.
- Katsuobushi dashi: Made with dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna (katsuobushi) flakes.
- Niboshi dashi: Made with dried baby sardines.
Since dashi is simply made with water and dried seafood products, it’s very low in calories on its own. An 8-ounce serving of plain dashi only contains about 10 calories.
The added calories from dashi in miso soup will depend on how much broth is used, but dashi generally contributes minimal calories.
Calories in Tofu
Many miso soup recipes also include soft or silken tofu. Tofu is made from condensed soy milk, which gives it a good amount of protein.
A 3-ounce serving (about half a cup) of soft tofu contains:
- 76 calories
- 4 grams protein
- 4 grams fat
- 2 grams carbs
The amount of tofu in miso soup varies, but using a quarter block or around 1-2 ounces of tofu adds about 40-50 calories.
Calories in Seaweed and Other Ingredients
In addition to the main ingredients above, miso soup often contains small amounts of:
– Wakame seaweed: 5 calories per tablespoon
– Green onions: 5 calories per tablespoon
– Shiitake mushrooms: 5 calories for 5-6 mushrooms
– Spinach or chard: 5 calories per cup raw
– Tofu: 40-50 calories per 1-2 oz
Since these ingredients are used sparingly, they contribute minimal extra calories – probably just 5-10 calories total.
Calories in a Bowl of Miso Soup
Now that we’ve looked at the calories in the individual ingredients, let’s put it all together to determine the calories for a full bowl of miso soup.
A typical bowl of miso soup is made with:
– 1-2 tablespoons miso: 25-60 calories
– 1-2 cups dashi broth: 5-10 calories
– 1-2 ounces tofu: 40-50 calories
– Assorted vegetables: 5-10 calories
So for a total bowl of miso soup containing these average amounts of each ingredient, the entire calorie count comes to:
The calorie range accounts for differences in serving sizes and amounts of the higher calorie items like miso paste and tofu.
Here is a nutrition breakdown for a 130-calorie bowl of miso soup with 2 tablespoons miso, 2 cups dashi, 2 ounces tofu, and mixed veggies:
As you can see, even in higher calorie preparations, miso soup is low in calories, fat, and carbs. The majority of calories come from the protein-rich miso paste and tofu.
Lower Calorie Miso Soup
If you’re looking to lighten up your miso soup, there are a few easy ways to reduce the calories:
– Use less miso paste. Start with just 1 tablespoon per serving.
– Go light on the tofu or skip it altogether.
– Bulk it up with extra vegetables like bok choy, cabbage, bean sprouts, or mushrooms.
– Use dashi made with kombu instead of katsuobushi or niboshi.
– Cut back on sodium by using low-sodium miso and low-sodium broth.
Following these tweaks can bring a bowl of miso down to around 60-80 calories. Every little bit cut makes a difference if you’re closely monitoring your caloric intake.
Higher Calorie Miso Soup
On the flip side, there are also ways to turn miso soup into a heartier, higher calorie meal:
– Use a full tablespoon of miso per cup of broth.
– Add extra tofu, up to 5-6 ounces.
– Mix in protein-rich soba noodles. A 1/2 cup dry soba noodles adds about 200 calories.
– Top with avocado slices for healthy fats. 1/4 avocado provides about 60 calories.
– Garnish with a poached or soft-boiled egg. A large egg has about 70 calories.
– Drizzle with sesame oil for added fat and flavor. A teaspoon of sesame oil has about 40 calories.
– Include nutrient-dense sea vegetables like wakame.
– Add marrow bones for extra protein.
Following a combination of these adjustments can easily bring a bowl of miso soup up to 300+ calories for a filling, nutrient-dense meal.
Should You Eat Miso Soup If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?
Thanks to its low calorie, high protein, and nutrient-dense ingredients, miso soup can be an excellent addition to a weight loss diet. Here are some of the key benefits of miso soup for weight loss:
– It’s very low in calories, ranging from 60-130 calories per bowl. This leaves plenty of room for higher calorie foods in your daily diet.
– The protein from miso paste and tofu helps keep you full and satisfied. Protein takes longer to digest, preventing overeating later.
– Fermented miso provides probiotics and gut-healthy fiber that improves digestion and gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to easier weight loss.
– The broth is rich in minerals that can help reduce bloating and water retention.
– It’s a comfort food that provides satisfaction without derailing your diet when you’re craving something indulgent.
Just be mindful of your full daily sodium intake, as the salt content can quickly add up if you eat multiple bowls of miso soup per day. Overall though, miso soup can be a slimming and nutritious addition to a weight loss meal plan.
Should You Eat Miso Soup If You’re Trying to Gain Weight?
For those who are underweight or trying to put on pounds, miso soup can also be modified to fit into a weight gain diet:
– Use larger amounts of calorie-dense miso paste and tofu.
– Mix in nutritious soba noodles or udon noodles.
– Add protein-packed eggs or meat.
– Top with avocado for healthy fats.
– Include nutrient-dense sea vegetables.
– Drizzle with sesame oil or olive oil.
– Drink alongside rice or grains to boost calories.
– Drink it frequently throughout the day.
With the right adjustments, miso soup can provide a substantial caloric boost to help with weight gain goals. It also delivers a big nutritional punch thanks to the varied ingredients.
A bowl of miso soup typically ranges from 60-130 calories depending on the amounts of ingredients used. Miso paste, tofu, dashi broth, and sea vegetables like wakame all contribute minimal calories that add up fast.
You can tweak your miso soup to be lower or higher in calories. Eating it alongside grains or other sides can also increase the calories.
Due to its stellar nutrition profile and low calorie density, miso soup can be a great addition to both a weight loss or weight gain diet. By making slight adjustments to your recipe, you can modify miso soup to fit your specific caloric needs.