The Best Ingredient To Give Bland Boxed Chicken Broth An Umami Upgrade

For home cooks and Michelin-star chefs alike, chicken broth is a pantry staple. Whether you're using it for a batch of chicken and dumplings, Southern grits, or a hearty stew, grabbing a box of chicken broth is an easy way to bring together a meal — it's convenient, shelf-stable, and saves time you'd otherwise lose making it from scratch. There's just one problem with the boxed stuff: It doesn't always have a robust flavor profile. Enter miso paste.

Miso paste is a plant-based ingredient made from fermented soybeans, commonly used in Japanese recipes. The paste can be emulsified into dressings, dips, stir-fries, and most fittingly, boxed chicken broth. This unique and simple ingredient will impart your bland broth with a rich umami blast. During the fermentation process, the proteins in the soybeans in miso paste break down into unique amino acids that bring out a meaty, umami flavor.

Once you boil the chicken broth, wait until the bubbles have subsided, then whisk in the miso paste until it dissolves in the hot liquid. Be careful with the order of the steps, as adding miso paste to boiling water or broth can kill the healthy bacteria and leave you with chunky bits of miso. By adding the paste after you've boiled your broth or finished cooking your stew, the miso can properly emulsify, giving your broth a robust and savory kick.

Uses for miso-enriched chicken broth

Now that you're privy to the broth hack that is miso paste, you'll need to put it to use. Not sure where to begin? Don't fret, there are plenty of recipes to try with your miso-laced broth.

One of the most simple recipes for miso-enriched broth is miso soup. Simply made with miso paste, broth, and scallions, miso soup is a comforting dish that can benefit from additional ingredients like tofu and vegetables for a more robust meal. Miso-infused chicken broth can also serve as a creamy, savory base for homemade ramen. Combine the broth with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other desired seasonings before adding the noodles, sliced meat, softboiled egg, and garnishes to boot.

When making stir-fries or sauteed dishes, you can use miso chicken broth to add flavor and moisture. It works particularly well with vegetables, tofu, or chicken. Simply add a splash during the cooking process to enhance the dish's taste. You can even combine your savory broth with soy sauce, honey, garlic, and ginger for a meat or vegetable marinade.

If you're making a meat-heavy dish and only need a touch of umami for your recipe, red bean miso offers a heavier umami punch while white bean miso is milder. However you choose to use your miso broth, have fun with it!