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Miso alphabet soup at

Dinner 911: Alphabet Miso Soup

I love and loathe soccer season in equal measure. The teamwork, the fresh air, the activity–all fantastic.

And it’s not even the weird coincidence that soccer games seem to always be on the rainiest, blowiest, bone-chilling days.

It’s merely that soccer nights wreak havoc on dinnertime. After 7 p.m. on a school night, when everyone piles back into the house, cold and starving, I’m at a loss.

Unless, in a moment of clarity, I remember the tub of miso in full-time residence in the fridge. And then I make this miso soup.

Filling Up on Miso Soup

While I don’t always have tofu, there’s always a tiny pasta on hand.

Alphabet noodles are the favorite. But other teensy pasta shapes, including pastina or acini di pepe are ideal. If I only have orzo, I take care not to use too much since larger shapes tend to drink up all the broth.

Miso alphabet soup at

I also add a random assortment of finely diced vegetables to make this filling enough to call it dinner. Carrots, green beans and red pepper seem to pass muster with the girls for the most part.

To be honest, I know they’d prefer I leave them out, and sometimes I do.

But if it was just grown ups, I’d use on-hand vegetables like broccoli stems, kohlrabi and kale–finely chopped.

Instant Stock for Miso Soup

The foundation for the soup is instant dashi, which is the backbone of the broth and a major cheat. {There are MSG-free versions, fyi.}

You can make dashi from scratch or use a vegetable stock or a broth instead. {Water only, I’m afraid, makes a very one-dimensional miso soup.} I keep bonito flakes and kombu in stock to make it when I have time.

And granted, miso from scratch takes very little time at all. But on these occasions, I’m gunning for everything I’ve got to shave off minutes.

This insta-miso-meal is so warming and nourishing, I’ll often offer a simple dessert instead of the usual, “Have a piece of fruit” stand-by.

I only wonder, is this why the kids like it so much?


and become a forager

15-Minute Alphabet Miso Soup

This quick version of miso soup uses instant dashi and miso paste, which I always keep on hand. The proportions are based on the miso soup recipe from Steamy Kitchen. You can use any tiny pasta shape, such as acini di pepe or pastina in place of the alphabet noodles.
Course Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lynne Curry


  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup alphabet noodles or other tiny pasta
  • 1 cup finely diced mixed vegetables, such as carrot, red pepper, celery and green beans
  • 3 tablespoons red or brown miso paste


  • Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the dashi and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the alphabet noodles and the diced vegetables and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Whisk the miso in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of the broth. Pour the miso mixture into the pot and stir well before serving.

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