Teach Me About Miso Paste (and other things)

My nieces and I bond over food and one of our favorite things to do is to walk to the corner Japanese restaurant and have a big bowl of miso soup. The other day I was thinking about how fun it would be to try making the soup with them instead of buying it. So, I went online and went Google crazy and got really confused.

So, can someone please tell me how to make dashi? What type and brand of bonito flakes should I purchase? (I can order stuff online or go to a local Asian market.)

Also: Please teach me about miso paste. What are the differences between the colors? How do I store it? Other than miso soup, what can I use it for? What are some easy-to-find brand names that taste good?

And then if someone could throw in their recipe for miso soup, that would be especially awesome. If not, I can try one of the 8,000 I found online.

Thanks in advance!


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