Tonjiru is delicious comfort food--from the cold of the ski slopes to the summer heat of-no-appetite, it is a favorite of children and adults alike. It reminds me of Stone Soup , the children's classic, adding each ingredient after ingredient. I've eaten many versions, some flavored with soy sauce but mine uses miso. It can easily be scaled down for a family recipe, or double this for a crowd of 40. —BoulderGalinTokyo
1.5 pound pork, (700 g) thinly sliced, see Note 1
12 cups water or vegetable soup stock
3 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled, sliced
2 gobo roots (burdock)
2 large onions, or leeks, peeled, thickly sliced
1 package konyaku or shirataki, see Note 2
1 pound satoh imo or russet potato or sweet potato, see Note 3
½ cup miso, blend (beige) or koji miso preferred. If using white miso, add salt to taste.
1 package tofu, (try to find Morinaga brand) silk or not
1 bunch nira, Japanese chives, or spring onions, cut 1-inch pieces
If budget permits, shiitake mushrooms, caps & stems chopped
In This Recipe
Thinly slice pork. Stack about 5 pieces at a time, and slice into pinkie-sized matchsticks. (Every bite of soup should have some pork in it.)
In your largest soup pot bring half the water to a boil. Add pork, mixing so that the pieces don't stick together. Bring to a boil, and skim any scum off the top. When soup is clear, lower heat to low.
Carrots can be cut thick julienned or in moon shapes. Scrub gobo burdock roots well (or peel). Have a large bowl of tap water ready. Slice burdock 1/4 inch on a diagonal or thick julienne. After every 5 or 6 slices, soak in the water. When all the burdock has been cut, drain, and replace water in bowl for soaking another 10 minutes. Slice onions. Drain burdock, add all veggies to soup.
Cut shirataki into 2-inch strands. (Cut konyaku into matchsticks.) Pour a little boiling water over, then add to the soup pot.
Add potatoes. Add the rest of the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are slightly falling apart.
If using sato imo, the Traditional Tonjiru ends here, so go to Step12.
If using other potatoes, might as well add other ingredients for the Feast Version.
Slice daikon into 1 1/2 inch circles. Lay each circle flat, then cut in 6 slices. Stack half on sides and cut to julienne. OR cut circles thinner, stack and cut like a pie. Add to the soup.
Add bamboo. (If using, add shiitake mushrooms)
Rinse aburage with boiling water (easy in microwave), drain, slice into half lengthwise, then slice into pinkie sizes. Add to soup.
Smash tofu with a whisk or fork. Add to pot. Everything should be cooked at this point.
Right before serving add nira or spring onions.
Add miso to a big ladle. Smash miso with whisk, adding a little soup in top of the ladle. Pour off and keep adding soup water until miso has been totally mixed. Turn off heat.
Note 1: Traditionally, a fatty cut of pork, like pork belly, is used but any cheap cut is fine. No time to cut, then ground pork works fine.
Note 2: Shirataki or Konyaku are available in Asian markets, might be frozen. Also Amazon and asianfoodgrocer.com carry them.
Note 3: Eliminate potatoes for low-glycemcic/ low carb version. Sato imo is traditionally used but they cause an itchy reaction to my hands. Sweet potato is delicious but don't use more than 2 large ones.
Note 4: If you can find a fresher version of cooked bamboo frozen, or in the vegetable section, it is worth it.