Takenoko Miso Potage: Creamy Bamboo Shoot Soup With Miso


Takenoko or bamboo shoot is a quintessential harbinger of spring in Japan. My mother bought a couple of beautiful, huge shoots at a grocery store in Kyoto last week and had then shippedh ome to Yokohama. So now we're in the middle of takenoko heaven: takenoko rice, takenoko in stir-fries, and much more. As a change of pace from all the traditional takenoko dishes, I made this very creamy, subtle soup that was a big hit. The gentle flavor of the takenoko comes through very well, and it's a great way to use up bits of the shoots that aren't as good looking, like the heel. And the creaminess is not derived from a flour-based roux (it's thickened with cooked rice), so this soup is gluten-free. (You can make it vegan by replacing the butter with oil, but the flavor is better with butter.)

If you're in Japan or have access to a very well stocked Japanese grocery store, you may have access to fresh bamboo shoots. If so, follow the instruction here for pre-cooking them. Otherwise, use vacuum-packed precooked bamboo shoot if you can. If you can't find that either, canned, boiled, unflavored bamboo shoot (not pickled or dried) will do, although it won't be as flavorful.

Recipe: Takenoko Miso potage - Creamy Bamboo Shoot Soup With Miso

A gentle, creamy yet umami-packed soup made with bamboo shoot.

Prep time: 5 min :: Cook time: 25 min :: Total time: 30 min

Yield: 4 servings

Serving size: about 1 cup


  • 1 leek, the white part only
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small precooked bamboo shoot, vacuum packed (preferred) or canned
  • 240ml or 1 U.S. cup water
  • 480ml or 2 U.S. cups whole soy milk or cow's milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweet white miso or Saikyo miso, or regular white miso with a pinch of sugar
  • salt and white pepper, to taste
  • sansho leaves, chives or parsley, for garnish


  1. Slice the leek thinly. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan over low-medium heat, add the leek and saute until the leek is soft and translucent. (Adding a pinch of salt will help the onion soften faster.)
  2. Cut up the bamboo shoot, leaving 4 slices for garnish. Add the cut up bamboo shoot to the pan and saute briefly. (Remember it's pre-cooked and already tender.)
  3. Add the water and rice. Turn up the heat until the water is boiling, then lower the heat again to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the water is almost all evaporated and the leek is very tender.
  4. Blitz the contents of the pan in a food processor, mixer or with a stick blender until smooth. If you want it to be very smooth, pass through a sieve.
  5. Wash out the pan, and return the puree to it. Add the milk. Heat up while stirring over medium heat, until it's bubbling gently. Take out a little of the mixture and put into a small bowl and add the miso. Stir until the miso is melted, then add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with a slice of bamboo shoot, and something green (I used chives here).

Ingredient notes

I used a gorgeous, naturally sweet white miso, also from Kyoto in this recipe. Use saikyo miso if you have it (see Miso primer), or just a plain white miso.

I made this with some leftover rice. If you don't have any around, you can use 1 tablespoon of raw uncooked rice instead. In that case, increase the water to 1 1/2 cups and simmer for 20 minutes instead of 15, before the pureeing step.

If you don't have leek, use a medium onion instead.

You can try this method with many other precooked vegetables. Just steam, boil or even microwave any of these until tender, and use instead of the bamboo shoot.

  • peeled, broccoli stalks
  • carrot
  • parsnip
  • gobo (burdock root)
  • fennel bulb

By Makiko Itoh

Published: May 04, 2011

Type: soup, japanese, vegetarian

Filed under:  japanese soup spring vegetarian yohshoku gluten-free

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This recipe comes at the nick of time! I had a bunch of bamboo shoots I didn't know what do make into, and was starting to worry about them going bad, but then you posted this recipe and it was the best coincidence in the whole world :D

Thank you~!

This sounds amazing. I'm adding leeks and bamboo shoots to the list for next time I go to the market.

I wonder if it's ok to leave out the milk...I have sinus problems and have been trying to avoid milk. Other than that, the recipe sounds amazing - it's brilliantly simple, but at the same time sounds so good. When I have takenoko I only either stir-fry or make soup (with pork bones or fish). Now I know another way to cook it! Thank you so much for the awesome idea :D

HI there - this looks great! I've been following your blog for some time, and wanted to introduce myself as I've just moved to France (from San Francisco) and I'm a total Asian foodie, and I really appreciate your Asian market list. Can't wait to do some shopping!

the Bamboo shoot makes it extraordinary, thanks for this.

If using leftover rice, how much do you add? I can't see rice in the ingredients list!

Looks like a really nice recipe, I love finding new ways to cook bamboo shoots!

This is an interesting recipe! Have never come across bamboo and miso soup before. Will go looking for fresh bamboo here in Bangkok and give it a whirl!

How much bamboo shoots do you need by weight? I managed to find a half a pound package of vacuum packed bamboo shoots, but I'm not sure if that too much or too little.