This vegan nabe or miso hot pot is a meatless take on a satisfying Japanese winter soup. It’s chock-full of flavor and makes a perfect soup base for vegan chanko nabe.
Hot pot is one of those dishes that you would probably end up trying if you ever visit Japan. During wintertime, it’s unsurprising to find a line at the counter of a local 7-Eleven of people waiting for their daily cup of hot pot.
Hot pot is also a communal meal. Friends and family would gather around a simmering pot of broth, adding pieces of meat, seafood or vegetables to cook. Think of it like a fondue party.
Unfortunately, most hot pot meals aren’t vegan since the stock is usually made from fish or meat. But I quickly discovered how to make a vegan version at home with only a few ingredients.
I’ll be sharing this easy recipe so you can enjoy it too but let’s learn a little more about what makes this dish awesome.
What is Nabe or Hot Pot?
Nabemono, or nabe for short is a Japanese one pot stew or soup that is generally eaten during colder seasons. Nabe can be made from a lightly or strongly flavored stock.
Chanko nabe is more popularly eaten by sumo wrestlers to aid in weight gain as it’s higher in protein. Tofu can be added for vegans or vegetarians.
The lightly flavored soup stock is generally made with kombu. The strongly flavored stock is generally made with miso, soy sauce, or fish stock.
This vegan nabe or hot pot will be made with kombu and shiro miso for a flavorful and MSG-free soup base.
What is kombu?
Kombu is dried kelp or a type of edible seaweed. It is usually used in Japanese cuisine to make dashi or soup stock.
Kombu naturally contains compounds that make anything it’s cooked in flavorful, without a fishy taste. These compounds form a white coating. The flavor is what Japanese like to call “umami”.
There is no need to rinse kombu before using as this could wash away some of the flavor compounds. Making good dashi or stock requires a slow extraction process for the best flavor.
I shared even more details and methods in my How to Make Kombu Dashi post.
Kombu can be steeped in cold water in the fridge overnight or gently simmered on the stovetop for 30 minutes. After cooking, the kombu can be removed and stored in the fridge for a second use in soup or while cooking rice.
Kombu is gluten-free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. You can find kombu at an Asian grocery store or your local health food store. It can also be found on Amazon.
What is shiro miso?
Shiro miso or white miso is a paste that is made from fermented soybeans, rice and sometimes barley. It is fermented in the least amount of time and contains less salt compared to other types of miso.
This gives it a milder taste which makes it suitable for soups and dressings. Shiro miso is also referred to as sweet miso.
White miso is vegan but not all brands are gluten-free due to the addition of barley, but gluten-free versions are available.
You can also find white miso at the same place you’d buy kombu; an Asian grocery store or your local health food store.
Which vegetables can I add to vegan or vegetarian nabe?
There are many types of vegetables that can be added to vegan or vegetarian nabe. From light greens to heartier vegetables, most would work well in hot pot.
When using light or leafy greens, be sure not to overcook them. Add them to the broth for no longer than 30 seconds or spoon the hot broth over the greens in your bowl while serving.
Vegan nabe is so popular in Japan that supermarkets create their combination of ready-to-use chopped veggies for convenience. In this recipe, I used one that included napa cabbage, mizuna, leeks, carrots, shiitake and enoki mushrooms. I also added turnip and a whole de-seeded chili pepper.
If you are using heartier vegetables, like potatoes or yams, cut into small, diced pieces or slice thinly so they can cook quickly.
What other ingredients can be added to vegan miso hot pot?
There are many other vegan-friendly ingredients that can be added to miso hot pot. These include:
- Tofu (to make vegan chanko nabe. Tofu adds the much-needed protein, making the soup even more filling)
- Soy milk (to make tonyu nabe)
- Sesame or peanut oil
- Other types of mushrooms
- Soy sauce (or soy- and gluten-free coconut aminos)
- Other sauces such as chilli-garlic or hoisin
- Sweet potatoes
- And many more.
More cosy winter recipes
Vegan Nabe (Hot Pot with Miso)
Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.
- 2 pieces (15 g) kombu, (about 4 inches each)
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) shiro or white miso paste
- 1 tablespoons (15 ml) soy sauce
- 1 small (50 g) carrot, sliced
- 1 (122 g) turnip, sliced thinly
- 1 (89 g) leek, sliced
- 1 dried de-seeded chilli pepper, optional
- ½ (450 g) Napa cabbage, chopped
- 1 handful (34 g) Mizuna greens
- 4 Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1 handful (handful) Enoki mushrooms
- 4 cups (950 ml) water
- salt, to taste
- Get a pot and add water, kombu, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, turnip, leeks, chilli pepper and soy sauce.2 pieces (15 g) kombu ,1 tablespoons (15 ml) soy sauce ,1 small (50 g) carrot ,1 (122 g) turnip ,1 (89 g) leek ,1 dried de-seeded chilli pepper ,4 Shiitake Mushrooms ,4 cups (950 ml) water
- Bring to a light simmer for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, add the miso to a small bowl then mix in a few tablespoons of water until it becomes a thick sauce consistency. This will make it easier to mix into the broth.2 tablespoons (30 g) shiro or white miso paste
- After 30 minutes, turn off the heat. Stir in the miso paste and salt if needed, then add the cabbage, mizuna, and enoki mushrooms.1 handful (34 g) Mizuna greens ,1 handful (handful) Enoki mushrooms ,salt ,½ (450 g) Napa cabbage
- Serve immediately.
- Not all white miso brands are gluten-free. Look for brands made without barley.
- Try coconut aminos for a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce.