This soup is called ‘Kenchin-jiru’ in Japan. It is originally a Buddhist dish and vegan. Vegetable base stock, such as Shiitake Mushroom OR Kombu (Kelp), is used for this soup. It is commonly seasoned with Soy Sauce, but there are many variations these days. Some people prefer seasoning with Miso. Root vegetables are the main ingredients and Gobō (Burdock Root) is the key ingredient, but it’s too hard to find where I live. Let’s forget Gobō…


Makes

4 Servings

Ingredients

1 to 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1/2 Carrot
5cm Daikon (White Radish)
4 to 5 Satoimo (small Taros) *OR 1 large Potato
10cm Gobo (Burdock Root) *optional
1 pinch Salt
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce
Ground Chilli OR finely ground White Pepper *optional
200g Tofu *medium firm type such as ‘Momen’
1 sheet Abura-age (Fried Thin Tofu)
1 Spring Onion *finely shopped

Stock
3 & 1/2 cups Water
10cm Kombu (Kelp)
4 to 5 Dried Shiitake
*Note: You can use 1 heaped teaspoon Dashi Powder instead

Method
  1. Prepare the stock first. Place cold Water in a bowl, add cleaned Kombu (Kelp) and Dried Shiitake, and soak for at least 1-2 hours. Softened Shiitake can be cut into small pieces and added to the soup later.
  2. *Note: Do not add the softened Kombu to the soup. Kombu will get slimy and unpleasant flavour will come out. Use it for something else.
  3. Cut all Vegetables and Tofu into small pieces that are easy to eat. Finely cut Spring Onion for topping.
  4. Heat Sesame Oil in a large saucepan or pot, stir-fry Vegetables for a few minutes. Add 1 pinch Salt to season.
  5. Add 3 cups Kombu (Kelp) and Shiitake stock. (*Avoid the dirt and settlings.) Bring to the simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with Soy Sauce and cook until all vegetables are soft.
  6. *Note: I add 1 pinch Ground Chilli OR White Pepper for a hint of spiciness. This is totally untraditional, but I like it.
  7. When Vegetables are soft, add Abura-age (Fried Thin Tofu) and Tofu, and bring back to the boil. Then it’s done!
  8. Sprinkle with finely chopped Spring Onion and enjoy.