This Mochi soup recipe, also called Ozouni (お雑煮), is a traditional Japanese dish. It’s eaten New Year’s morning, often with Osechi, a fancy new year 3 to 5-tier bento box. This Japanese New Year’s Mochi Soup Recipe is a very authentic recipe, passed on from my grandma, to my mom, to me.
The New year is one of the biggest events in Japan. It’s always a big deal and it always involves copious amounts of delicious food. For instance, on New Year’s Eve, we eat Soba, which is a popular Japanese noodle. Soba represents the wish for a long and healthy life in the new year. During January 1st through the 3rd, we enjoy gorgeous 3-tier (traditionally it used to be 5-tier) bento box called Osechi. Osechi is a box that is packed with a variety of yummy dishes, which features ingredients from ocean to mountain. This reminds us to be thankful for the nature all around us, as we go into the new year. Then, on the 7th day, we eat porridge with 7 kinds of herbs called Nana-kusa gayu to rest our stomach. Often, along with Osechi, we eat Ozuni Mochi soup.
Japanese mochi soup for New Year, Ozouni
Each region in Japan has their own type of Ozouni. In the west part of Japan, which is where I’m from, you’ll typically see white miso being used. Our family, however, uses clear soup with a fish stock base called Dashi. We mix our dashi base with a second broth, made from chicken thigh. This soup is very comforting and reminds me of my childhood in Osaka.
First, we make fish broth using dashi pack that contains dried fish like bonito, then add chicken and leek. This makes a perfect soup base with the umami combination of dashi and chicken.
We typically put cooked 1~2 mochi (sticky rice cake) per bowl. If you have a mochi maker, you can make a fresh mochi (which would take 1-2 hours to make) but typically most people buy pre-made mochi from a store.
Pre-made mochi needs to be soft before using it in the soup. We usually cook them on a wire rack on the stovetop or toaster oven, or broil them so they get toasted on top. For convenience and ease, you can simply put it the Mochi in the microwave, though a toasted Mochi really gives this dish another dimension. *Update* We recently found out that Air Fryer can make perfect toasted Mochi! Try it if you have Air Fryer!
After getting the soup and the mochi ready, put them your individual soup bowls. Once the Mochi is in the bowl, ladle your broth over the mochi.
New yeas’s morning we greet each other by saying “Happy New Year (Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu)” and immediately after, my mom asks, “How many Mochi?” And I usually say “Two please!”
Aren’t these bowls beautiful? We often use fancy traditional lacquer bowls for new years dish!
Finally, we top with bonito flakes, Katsuo-bushi. Also, I love incorporating fresh Mitsuba into my soup. It’s hard to find, but it really adds a refreshing fragrance. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find any Mitsuba for this batch of soup!
Recommended Japanese Ingredients:
- Mochi – sticky rice cake. Delicious in soup, with soy & seaweed or with sweetened kinako (soy bean powder) as dessert.
- Dashi pack – Use this pack to make fish soup stock which often used in Japanese dish. This Kuraha brand is absolutely the best kind.
- Katsuobushi (Bonito flake) – Great topping for anything. Delicious on Tofu or veggies, mix with soy sauce to eat with rice, so many ways to use.
- Wire mesh – To soften & brown mochi on stove top, you can use this. Or use toaster oven.
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Japanese New Year’s Mochi Soup – Ozouni
- 5 cups water
- 2 dashi packs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sake …(optional)
- 1/2 lb chicken …if you like extra chicken, use 1 lb
- 1 white part of leek …chopped thinly
- 4-8 pieces mochi …1-2 pieces per bowl but use more if you like
- 1/4 cup bonito flake
- 1/2 tbsp mitsuba (Japanese pasley) …(optional)
- Cut chicken into small pieces (3/4-1 in. cube size).
- Put water & dashi pack in medium size pot and start boiling water. After 5min of boiling, remove dashi pack. Fish stock is done now.
- Add chicken into the fish stock & add sake (optional).
- Cook chicken for about 10 min in medium heat.
- Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the soup and add another 1/2 tsp if it needs more salt. (Some dashi pack contains more salt so adjust the amount of salt here.)
- Cook mochi on a wire rack on stove top or toaster oven until lightly brown.
- Put mochi & soup into bowls. Top with bonito flake & mitsuba.
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- See also Japanese Winter Dish – Crab Hot Pot too!
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