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Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Miso Soup) 豚汁

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    Tonjiru is a savory miso soup with pork and root vegetables. Packed with an excellent source of vitamins, it’s absolutely nourishing and soul-fulfilling!

    Wooden miso soup bowls containing Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup).

    If you ask me what is my favorite miso soup, I would immediately say Tonjiru (豚汁). This Pork and Vegetable Miso Soup is one of the true comfort foods that I crave when I travel. There’s nothing more soothing than a simple meal of Onigiri rice balls and Tonjiru.

    You might have seen Tonjiru being featured on the popular Japanese TV drama called “Shinya Shokudo (深夜食堂)” or “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” on Netflix. In the opening scene, the main character Master is seen to be making a big pot of hearty soup, where steam is wafting through the kitchen.

    Netflix® Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories - Season 2 Recipes | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories ©TBS Television

    If you find yourself extra hungry after watching all the scrumptious meals prepared by the Master, it’s time to create them right in your own kitchen! Each of the dishes is doable and I have the recipes just for you (Season 1 recipes; Season 2 recipes)!

    What is Tonjiru?

    Tonjiru (豚汁), literally meaning “pork (ton) soup (jiru)”, is basically miso soup featuring pork and root vegetables. Some people call it Butajiru (豚汁) too, just another way to read the same kanji character.

    It may be a cold-weather staple, but I do enjoy the soup year-round. Not only it’s delicious, but the soup also packs in a lot of protein, minerals, fiber, and B vitamins that are great for both body and soul. The kind of comfort food that will warm and restore you. So what’s not to love?

    Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup) served with grilled salmon, steamed rice, and vegetable side dishes.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    The Pork

    The most commonly used pork for this soup is pork belly slices. They look like bacon because they are the same cut of meat but uncured. You can buy pork belly slices in Japanese or Korean grocery stores or big blocks of pork belly in Chinese grocery stores (read this tutorial on How to Slice Meat Thinly). Some American grocery stores like the meat sections at Whole Foods may also offer the same cuts if you ask.

    The Vegetables

    Besides pork, the characteristic of this soup is that it is loaded with hearty root vegetables such as gobo (burdock root), taro, daikon, and carrot. You can cut these vegetables into any shape and size you like. Just make sure to keep all the ingredients the same size so that they take about the same cooking time.

    Each household makes slightly different Tonjiru with various ingredients and miso of their choice. Besides what I use in my recipe, I’ve seen:

    • Bean sprout
    • Cabbage/Napa cabbage
    • Asian chives (Nira)
    • Potato
    • Shimeji mushroom
    • Shiitake mushroom

    The Soup Stock

    The sauteed pork belly gives the soup a sweet-savory flavor so some people use only water and leave out dashi in their Tonjiru. However, I personally prefer dashi in the soup broth for more umami and depth.

    Wooden miso soup bowls containing Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup).

    Watch How to Make Tonjiru

    It’s really easy to make this hearty miso soup. Watch the video below first before following my step by step recipe below.

    Tonjiru is a savory miso soup with pork and root vegetables. Packed with an excellent source of vitamins, it’s absolutely nourishing and soul-fulfilling!

    Tips on Making Tonjiru

    1. Use at least 3 root vegetables – I highly recommend NOT skipping gobo, daikon, and carrot. These three vegetables add unique flavors, depth, and sweetness.
    2. Cut vegetables in the same size and similar shape – If you want chunkier texture in your soup, you can cut bigger size but make sure all the ingredients are similar in shape and size for even cooking time.
    3. Stir fry the meat and vegetables before adding soup stock – This helps to bring out flavors from the ingredients and add depth to the soup.
    4. Let the flavor soak in while cooling – If you have time, make this soup ahead of time. While you let the soup cool and wait for the meal, the flavor will improve.
    5. Add miso right before serving – Miso soup is the most fragrant and tasty when it’s added right before serving. And do not let the miso soup boil as it loses its wonderful flavor.

    Tonjiru served in a black bowl.

    Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Tonjiru

    No time to keep a close watch on the pot? Try making Tonjiru in your pressure cooker! Here’s my recipe using the Instant Pot.

    Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup) served with grilled salmon, steamed rice, and vegetable side dishes.

    Itadakimasu!

    Nourishing and easily customizable, Tonjiru is unquestionably home cooking of the best kind. You can make a big pot and enjoy it for the next 5 days! For a simple cozy dinner, I like to serve the soup to accompany the main dish like Japanese Salted Salmon along with steamed rice, pickles, and a few small sides.

    Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup) served with grilled salmon, steamed rice, and vegetable side dishes.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.75 from 39 votes
    Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Soup) served with grilled salmon, steamed rice, and vegetable side dishes.
    Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Miso Soup)
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    40 mins
     

    Tonjiru is a savory pork and vegetable miso soup you can easily make at home. Packed with B vitamins, fiber and minerals, this healthy soup is nourishing and soul-fulfilling. You'd love it on a cold-weather day!

    Course: Main Course, Soup
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: miso soup, pork soup
    Servings: 4
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    For Soup Ingredients
    For Making Soup
    For Garnish
    Instructions
    1. It's easier to cut pork belly if it's slightly frozen, so put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before you cut. Meanwhile, gather all the ingredients.

      Tonjiru Ingredients
    To Prepare Ingredients
    1. Take out the pork from the freezer and cut it into 1-inch pieces.

      Tonjiru 18
    2. Scrape the gobo skin with the back of your knife. The flavor of the gobo is right underneath the skin; therefore, you only need to scrape off the outer skin. Do not use a peeler.

      Tonjiru 1
    3. From the end of gobo, make a cross incision about 1 inch deep. This helps "sharpening" the gobo easier. Rotate as you shave the end of the gobo, like how you sharpen a pencil with a knife. Soak the shaved gobo in water to prevent discoloring.

      Tonjiru 2
    4. Discard the dirty water and rinse gobo with running water.

      burdock root soaked in water
    5. Cut off both ends of taro and peel the sides with the knife (or peeler).

      Tonjiru 4
    6. Cut the taro into ⅓ inch slices and soak in water to remove the sliminess.

      Tonjiru 5
    7. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and cut into thin slices.

      Tonjiru 6
    8. Peel and cut the daikon half lengthwise.

      Tonjiru 7
    9. Cut in half again (now they are quarters) and cut into ⅛ inch slices. If you have skinnier daikon, cut into thin half-moon-shaped slices.

      Tonjiru 8
    10. Peel and cut the carrot in half lengthwise, and then slice thinly.

      Tonjiru 9
    11. Cut the konnyaku into small and thin rectangular pieces.

      Tonjiru 10
    12. Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and rub well with hands. Leave stand for 5 minutes. Tip: Salt releases water along with the unwanted odor.

      Tonjiru 11
    13. In the meantime, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the konnyaku.

      Tonjiru 12
    14. Cook konnyaku for 2-3 minutes and drain the water. (Tip: This helps to remove the unwanted smell.) Set aside.

      Tonjiru 13
    15. Slice the negi diagonally.

      Tonjiru 14
    16. Remove excess oil on aburaage with a piece of paper towel.

      Tonjiru 15
    17. Cut in half and thinly slice it.

      Tonjiru 16
    18. Peel and grate the ginger. You'll need 1 tsp of grated ginger.

      Tonjiru 17
    19. Cut the green onions into thin small rounds which we will use for garnish on top of the miso soup. Keep them in the bowl.

      Tonjiru 19
    To Cook Tonjiru
    1. In a large pot (I use this Le Creuset), heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil over medium heat.

      Tonjiru 20
    2. Add the pork belly and stir fry with a spatula.

      Tonjiru 21
    3. When the pork is no longer pink, add the onion.

      Tonjiru 22
    4. Stir fry and add daikon and carrot slices.

      Tonjiru 23
    5. When ingredients are coated with oil, add gobo and taro.

      Tonjiru 24
    6. Add konnyaku, aburaage, negi, and dashi. The dashi should be just enough to cover the ingredients. If not enough, add more dashi (if you have any) or water.

      Adding dashi to tonjiru
    7. Stir to mix and close the lid to bring it to boil.

      Tonjiru 26
    8. When boiling, lower the heat and skim off the scum and fat from the soup.

      Tonjiru 27
    9. Cook, covered with the lid, on simmer until root vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

      Tonjiru 28
    10. When an inserted skewer on a tough and thick vegetable pierces through, it's done cooking. Turn off the heat. If you are preparing ahead, stop here and let cool completely before storing the pot in the refrigerator.

      Tonjiru 29
    To Serve
    1. For the best flavor and fragrance, miso should be added right before serving if possible. Add 5 Tbsp miso using a strainer (Tip: always start adding a little less than the recipe says; each brand/type of miso has different saltiness). If you don’t have one, let the miso completely dissolved in the ladle first before releasing it to the soup. Taste the soup. If it's too salty, add dashi (if you have) or water. If the soup is not enough flavor, add more miso.

      Tonjiru 30
    2. I added more miso (1 Tbsp) here. When you are done with miso, add grated ginger. Tip: When you add tofu (always add tofu after miso as it is delicate), make sure your miso soup has a slightly stronger taste because the moisture from the tofu will dilute the flavor.

      Tonjiru 31
    3. Tear tofu into small pieces and add them. You can alternatively cut the tofu into cubes instead of tearing it. Tip: Tearing add more surface of tofu which will absorb more flavor of miso soup.

      Tonjiru 32
    4. When you are ready to serve, reheat the miso soup on medium-low heat and keep it at a low simmer. NEVER let the miso soup boil because miso will lose the flavor.

      Tonjiru 34
    5. Serve in the miso soup bowl, sprinkle green onion, and serve immediately.

      Tonjiru 35
    To Store
    1. Let the miso soup cool completely before storing it in the refrigerator. Consume within 5 days.

    Recipe Notes

    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.

    Editor’s Note: Pictures updated in June 2013.

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