Zenzai – Oshiruko (Sweet Red Bean Soup) ぜんざい

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Zenzai (Red Bean Soup) Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com

Anko, sweetened Azuki bean paste, is used in many Japanese confectionery.  Personally, I love anything with red bean paste just like how some people are crazy about chocolate (I do love both).  I will be sharing another red bean sweet recipe in a week or two, so today I am going to share how to make Anko from scratch and a red bean dessert soup called Zenzai using Anko.

The inspiration for making this recipe actually came from the readers of Just One Cookbook.  Some of you had told me that you can’t find canned sweetened red bean paste in your area so I prepared a How To page for this recipe.


Once you make red bean paste, we can make many variation of Japanese sweets using the paste.  So far I’ve shared Red Bean PancakeRed Bean Ice Cream, and Dorayaki.  Today I’m going to share Zenzai.

Zenzai IIZenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert.  It’s a thick sweet soup consists of boiled azuki beans and often served with mochi (rice cake) or shiratama dango (glutinous rice flour dumplings – Recipe here).  Oshiruko (お汁粉) or Shiruko is another name used in east of Japan where azuki beans are boiled and then crushed into paste and it has a more watery consistency than zenzai.

Sweet azuki bean soup with sticky mochi is a comforting sweet for Japanese people in winter time.

Zenzai III

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Zenzai (Red Bean Soup)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1
  1. In a saucepan, heat anko and water and bring it to a boil. Add pinch of salt and mix well. Turn off the heat.
  2. Cut mochi in half/quarter and place it on the grill inside the toaster. When the mochi is nice and toasty take it out and put it in the Zenzai. Enjoy immediately but be careful and don't burn yourself.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. My mum used to make this soup quite frequently for us when we were kids! She added dried orange peel to the soup though – it gives it a nice tangy after taste.

  2. That looks phenomenal! At this rate, you can be a professional food stylist very soon. I bought red beans months ago but haven’t used it yet. This looks so yummy….what kind of mochi should I buy? What shape is it? Do u know if it’s the same as Korean ones?

  3. Love the photos and have you’ve plated it Nami :) Love love LOVE the wood board hehe ~ we have Red Bean Soup in Hong Kong too. But we don’t have rice dumplings ~ I never use to be a fan of red bean soup but lately, lol I’ve been addicted to everything ‘red bead’ :) I heard that it’s really good for our health too ;D

    Please share more and more sweet recipes if you can!!!

  4. Wow, Nami! Loving the look of this – a real sticky treat indeed. Have so much to learn. Perhaps I should make a macaron out of this – even better, I can see you making it 😉

  5. なみさん





  6. I also love that board, and I’m trying to think of ways this could be incorporated into a traditional dessert. Everything you make looks appetizing! I’m always amazed at how complex your dishes look and you make them sound so easy. Have a fun week!

  7. I’m always learning something new from you. Chinese red bean soup also have glutinous rice balls, but not toasted – i bet toasted ones is more tasty! you are so creative in your styling, i’m trying very hard to style but always turn out so boring. loving your wooden board.
    btw, what macro lens are you using?

  8. Gosh, I must make a list of all these wonderful ingredients you introduce me to and go to my Asian market and see if I can find them to try them out. Your soup looks lovely. PS.. those little sandals are too cute. :)

  9. Ira Rodrigues

    i always love a simple and straight forward recipe for my treat! and your recipe definitely spot on!. *the wooden slippers chop stick rest are so cute!

  10. Nami – Another beautiful post! I agree with Fern that at this rate you will become a professional food photographer/stylist very soon. I do love all Japanese sweets made with red bean paste. Also, your how to page is amazing – very detailed with great photos!

  11. Many thanks for this wonderful, well-illustrated recipe. I love exotic sweets and I have seen recipes with red bean paste a couple of times but the red bean paste is really difficult to come by, even in the few Asian stores available here. These kind of posts are really appreciated. The soup looks lovely and delectable!

  12. Wonderful Nami!!!
    Red bean soup…. Yumm… God I have to stop getting scared with red bean paste….
    LOVE LOVE LOVE your props and pics…
    Those sandals…. super cute…..
    B/W My hubby bought me a pair from Japan, I love them…

  13. Hi Nami! I hope you had a great weekend! The red bean soup is one of our favorites growing up, as is the green bean soup. The difference is we actually cook from the whole beans (which takes a LONG time for red beans). I love that you add the roasted mochi on top, I bet that really adds a great texture to the dessert!

    What are you doing for Spring Break? I have a few playdates planned for Trinity, in fact I just fed the girls and they are back in the room playing (I have no idea what). Tomorrow we are heading to the Galleria Mall so they can have a “Proper Lady’s Lunch”, those 2 girls are hilarious!

  14. I have heard a lot of good stuff about red bean paste for making delicious desserts. However, this is the first I have seen it used in a dessert soup-new and unique to me! I will need to try to experiment with using the paste and I look forward to more posts using this ingredient.

  15. Nami, it looks even more unusual than azuki bean paste sold as sweet snacks in Japanese shops. Your presentation is perfect and beautiful, but I’m afraid I’m one of those who are not big fans of azuki sweets. I also don’t like chestnut sweets and my Japanese friend told me there is something in common in both azuki and chestnut desserts. (Haha, now that I think I would snatch the mochi cake and leave the soup for those who love azuki!)

  16. Susie

    I’m with you I love red bean everything…. This soup sounds so delicious especially with the mochi. I swear I could eat any and all sweets you make with red beans. YUM! I’m still trying to figure out when I try your dorayaki recipe.

  17. Looking at your mochi, I know what i want with my tea tonight…
    I love your beautiful posts and pictures. The food reminds me of my dad and my growing up childhood. Thank you!

  18. Hi Nami! I came by earlier to pin your beautiful red bean soup but forgot to leave a comment;-) This ingredient is new to me but sounds wonderful from your descriptions and looks beautiful from your lovely photos!

  19. Nami, I love this simple soup and beautiful photos that makes me want to run out and get some red bean paste! Not sure I can get red bean paste here but I can look :) I have got to take some photography lessons from you and Nancy because I am so bored with my limited knowledge of my camera and skills. I have yet to read the post you recommended but I will. Have a great week.

  20. I should eat more red beans but I hardly do :(

    Looking at your dessert at the start of this wet (rainy) week is especially comforting. How I wish for one bowl after dinner every day of this week.

  21. Stunning pictures! I’ve come a long way from disliking red bean paste to loving it! It’s one of things that learned to appreciate over time. Like your step by step instructions on making the bean paste. I also have made the paste at home but I blended in a blender to create that smooth texture. Will make Zenzai with my homemade bean paste soon! Thanks!

  22. That sounds like such a delicious way to feature sweet azuki beans. I have a bag of them on my counter that I will be cooking with this week. I am excited to try them after seeing them featured here often. You are an inspiration!

  23. Awesome presentation and surely delicious soup! A must try =)

  24. I love anything with red beans and prefer it to chocolate. This is something I (and the husband) would really like, Nami. I didn’t know that mochi can be grilled. That is so interesting.

  25. 私、これ大好き!栗を入れてもいいよね。いつもステキな写真。説明も解りやすいです。すっごいコメント。私のブログにもこれだけ人達がコメントくれたら、やりがいありそう。 

  26. Nami-san, O Genki desu ka? I love your version of red bean dessert soup. Grilling the mochi really adds something special to this dish. I just love how the ends of the mochi get crispy and the center chewy after baking or grilling. It is the whole wonders of the textures. I just gave you a plug on Bam’s Kitchen…. and thinking of you during this very difficult one year anniversary. Take care, BAM

  27. This recipe is very new to me… I’ve eaten a lot of red bean based desserts but strangely never something savory! And soup sounds like a great way to start! I think I saw this paste in an gourmet supermarket here… I would love to try it out :) Thanks, Nami! And your pictures are as gorgeous as always!

  28. Eri

    I saw it yesterday on Facebook Nami, I’m so excited about the How to page, it’s so easy to make this paste! The soup also is so easy with nada ingredients, how smart!!!

  29. I just checked out (and printed) your red bean paste instructions. How fantastic! It’s one of those sweet/savory items in Chinese cooking that makes me feel like I just have to eat out or else I’ll never get it (as with most of your recipes. But, I am a western girl and Chinese cooking nube, so that’s to be expected).

    This savory use of it looks fantastic. Thank you!

  30. we also have this in chinese desserts! without the mochi though. and sometimes extras liek lotus seeds or black glutinous rice is added. this is one of my favourite soups!

  31. This looks like a very nice treat, Nami! Sweet flavored soup with mochi sounds like a good afternoon snack. Thank you for sharing another wonderful gem from your country.

    ~ ray ~

  32. I have to say I’m not always a fan of sweetened red bean desserts. I can take them only in small doses. But yours looks so beautiful, you just might convert me yet. 😉

  33. thank you, ive been searchin for this red bean paste before but i always forgot it hihi.
    luckily i hope to this blog of yours really big thanks and i already added to my list hahas.
    good post 😀

  34. Red beans are in all of my favorite desserts. Lol, sometimes when I make halo halo I use all red beans. But I’ve actually never had them in a savory dish – can’t wait to try it!

  35. Hehe, the mochi reminds me of marshmallow 😀 I’ve never tried red bean soup before – I must admit that my first experiences with red bean paste were less than positive. I was given it and told it was like “candy”. Of course it’s so different to any kind of western “candy” I’m familiar with so I didn’t enjoy it at all at first. Over time I came to enjoy it more and more so I think I I’d like this a lot – I’ve never tried a soup as a dessert – sounds like fun :)

  36. Very interesting! My mom makes red bean soup very frequently and in fact, I made some a few weeks ago! Malaysian way is slightly different which I hope to share with you one day! :)

  37. Red bean paste is SO GOOD! Thanks so much for showing us how to make it! It looks easier to do than I thought so it’s on my TO DO list! Your soup looks delicious!

  38. I am so happy to find you on Maureen’s site, The Orgasmic Chef. You blog is gorgeous, and I really look forward to following you! I love learning and growing with photography, and your photography is very inspirational! Take care, Terra

  39. Ꮮуռ (ᶬˠ ᶩᶤᵗᵗᶥᵋ ᵐᵋˢˢᵞ ᴻ ᶜʱᵋᵋᵏᵞ)

    My favorite red beans! I’d always add extra red beans to my ice-kachang (shaved ice)!
    I just bought a packet of koshian from Daiso last week. I’m so happy & excited when I saw it in the store! LOL

    I’m gonna search for the mochi and start making this yummy dessert soon! 😉

  40. Hi Nami….a soup recipe…yay! Remember you told me there are very few Japanese soup recipes? Well, I guess you thought of one eventually! And this looks delicious! I love your photography and the little Japanese slippers as decoration. They are so cute! Hope you’re doing well!

  41. Bianca

    Hello! I just wanted to say I ran into your site today and I’m very much in love with it. I’ll be trying to make this today, as well as some other things I found here <3

    • Hi Jessica!

      I think I got them at Daiso, a Japanese $1 store in SF (it’s a chain). They were in Japanese decoration section. Glad to hear you like this picture! :)

  42. Lori

    Tried this tonight with Shirakiku brand koshi an–now in a easy to squeeze out package– and homemade mochi. My family enjoyed the quick treat on a rainy night in Honolulu. I look forward to trying your other recipes!

    Lori Bruner Okamura

    • Hi Lori! I have been thinking about making this for several days now. I’m a huge anko fan and I can eat it everyday… :) So happy you enjoyed this. Thank you for letting me know!

  43. Melia

    Hi, Nami.. Your blog is great! You have to be a chef! :)
    I’m a first time visitor here.. I fall in love with Japanese dessert.. Thank you for share this recipe.. But maybe you can give me some advice.. Do you know how to make kiri mochi? It’s a little bit hard to find the recipe in internet.. It’s said that making kiri mochi need more effort, you need mortar and pestle.. Is that true? But I would love to try someday..
    Arigato.. :)

  44. Sharon

    Nami, the recipe for Red Bean Soup looks like something I would want to try. I would also like to know where you purchased your “props” the tiny getta sandals? My daughter would love to have those on her table the next time she prepares a Children’s Day feast.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Sharon! I hope you enjoy this recipe! I think I got this geta from Daiso (Japanese $1 store). They have small (and cheap) Japanese decorations stuff there. They have online store, but they only sell selected things… Sorry I cannot help much. :(

      Here’s the link for Daiso: http://www.daisojapan.com/

  45. Tanya

    I love zenyai, thank you for this recipe and for your wonderful site!
    I have already made your mochi, and it was perfect.

    • Hi Tanya! So happy to know you like zenzai too! This is a wonderful snack in winter months. I enjoy eating mochi too, so I always look forward to zenzai with mochi on cold days. :) Glad to hear you enjoy my mochi (strawberry mochi?) recipe. Arigato!

  46. Marilyn

    Hi Nami,

    I tried making your zenzai soup ytd, overall it was quite good, and I already want to try the recipe a second time. Just a quick question, I used anko that I had chilled in the freezer and boiled it with water, however the two don’t seem to be able to blend? The red beans and water remained separate even after I had boiled them together, is it supposed to be like that?
    I toasted the mochi in my oven and they turned out perfect! helped myself to two big chucks!

    • Hi Marilyn! It depends on how you cooked anko (if homemade). If you can still see the bean, then the outcome of zenzai is liquid + beans. Only if you use “koshi an” (paste texture of red bean), the liquid will be thicker and blend in. If you feel it’s watery, cook a little longer to reduce a bit. If you prefer the liquid to be thicker, then you may want to use koshi an (I don’t have a recipe yet, but Japanese grocery store sells koshi an (you wont’ see any bean shape). Hope this helps…. :)

  47. Mikah

    Can you show us how tomake mochi from scratch?not the trational one though,i hear its labor intensive. But i heard that there are other ways to make it…i miight not find mochi rice though…some sort of flour? The stovetop version please,im uncomfortable using the microwave…

  48. Susan Onodera

    Just want to tell u that ur photographs keeps getting better n better. Love that touch of mini getta next to the zenzai