Japanese Meatball Miso Soup (Niku Dango Miso)

I returned home after a sunny California vacation to a couple feet of snow and my car frozen to the earth. Welcome back to reality, eh?! I don’t dislike snow, but it sure is difficult to keep up with shoveling when there is no where to put the snow. This is one of the small sacrifices city dwellers make. Alas…

California was fantastic. We lucked out and only had one afternoon of rainfall (on our second to last day). My favorite part about the trip >> we were able to eat fresh, good-for-us food the entire trip. Usually I come home from vacation craving greens or fruits, but not this time!

Something I did start craving the minute my face hit the cold Boston air was soup. Plus, there is nothing better than a nice bowl of hot soup after coming in from shoveling snow (well, hot chocolate is up there too).

I made this soup before heading to California, but decided I’d make it one more time before taking pictures and sharing it with all of you. It is a detoxifying Japanese meatball soup or, niku dango miso (according to Ryo). The recipe is simple, but requires a few Japanese pantry staples: wakame, light/mild miso and hondashi. There are images of the products I buy below (you can get them at any Asian market like H-Mart in Cambridge/Burlington or Super88 in Allston).

Niku Dango Miso

(serves 2, or 4 if eating as a side dish)



1/2 lb lean ground beef

1 tbsp soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1 large garlic clove, grated*

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated*

1 Tbsp sesame oil

*Invest in a ceramic grater like this Kyocera one

Soup base

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 larger garlic clove, minced

1-2 large carrot cut into circles

1 Tbsp soy sauce

4 cups water

2 Tbsp light miso paste

1 Tbsp hondashi

1 Tbsp dried wakame (fueru wakame)

2 handfuls of chopped kale (or other greens)

As always, add more or less of ingredients like ginger, garlic, or miso to satisfy your tastebuds. Taste the soup base as you add the miso. You might find that you want an extra tablespoon.



  1. In a small mixing  bowl, combine all ingredients except the sesame oil.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of seasame oil over medium heat. Using your hands, roll small meatballs (smaller than a ping pong ball) and place them in the skillet one at a time. *Tip:I was able to make 20. A melon scooper is a good gauge for size. soup
  3. Let them brown on the outside — tossing them in the pan every minute or so. Once they are brown on all sides, slice the biggest one in half to check doneness. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

Soup base

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of sesame oil in your soup pot. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add your carrot and cook for 1 minute.  Add soy sauce and 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil for 2 minutes, and then reduce to a simmer. soupsoup
  3. Next, add your miso paste. Trick: Place the miso paste in a ladle and then fill the ladle with hot water from the soup pot. Stir the miso paste in the ladle until it dissolves and then add it to the pot. Be careful not to bring the soup broth to a boil — it’ll jeopardize the miso flavor. Taste the broth and judge whether or not you want more miso.
  4. Add the hondashi, wakame and kale. Keep the soup at a low simmer and cover for 5 minutes. soupsoupSAMSUNG CSC
  5. Serve hot! Divide meatballs in 2 or 4 bowls, then add broth over the top. Want it spicy? Add a dab of garlic chili paste.soup

Enjoy! I topped mine with a toasted mochi. :)



3 thoughts on “Japanese Meatball Miso Soup (Niku Dango Miso)

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