Tonjiru (豚汁), literally meaning “pork (ton) soup (jiru)”, is basically miso soup featuring pork and root vegetables. The name came from pork/pig (豚) and soup (汁) because the key ingredient of this soup is pork. The kanji character “豚” can be read as “ton” or “buta” as the Japanese reading of kanji usually has two (sometimes more) ways, i.e. the Chinese reading and Japanese reading. As such, some people call it Butajiru (豚汁) too, just another way to read the same kanji character.
This is quite different from the usual miso soup as miso soups are normally just vegetables with no oil in them. Tonjiru does not get cold as fast as other miso soups because the surface of the soup is covered by a very thin film of oil from the pork. This film of oil keeps the soup hot, which is perfect on a cold day.
Because of the fat content in this soup, it is a cold-weather staple, but I do enjoy the soup all year-round.
- Pork belly, sliced thinly: 100 grams
- Carrot, peeled and cubed: 60 grams
- White radish, peeled and cubed: 30 grams
- Yellow onion, sliced thinly: 1
- Leek (stem only), sliced: 30 grams
- Shimeiji mushrooms: 100 grams
- Silken tofu, cubed: 150 grams
- Tofu puffs: 4 pieces
- Cooking oil: 1/2 tablespoon
- Quail eggs, boiled and peeled: 8 pieces
- Dashi soup stock: 800 ml
- Miso: 3 tablespoons (to taste)
- Mirin: 2 tablespoons
- Add tofu puffs into a small pot of boiling water and leave for 1 minute to remove the oil from the puffs. Remove tofu puffs from boiling water and drain well. Slice thinly.
- In a large pot, heat oil on medium-high heat and stir fry pork belly until cooked. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft. Then add the rest of the vegetables and stir until everything is well combined. Return the cooked pork belly to the pot.
- Add dashi soup stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Skim the scum and fat off the soup. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender.
- Turn off the heat. Add miso (to taste) using a strainer. Add mirin and stir the soup well
- Add tofu and quail eggs and stir gently to avoid breaking up the tofu.
- When you are ready to serve the soup, reheat it on medium-low heat. Add garnish and serve hot.
- Never let the soup boil because it will cause the miso to lose flavour.
- The cut of pork does not have to be pork belly but the meat has to be thinly sliced so that it gets cooked fast and tender. But I like pork belly as it makes the soup extra rich with additional fat. You could use slightly thicker slices of pork, if you like.