How To Make Ozoni (Japanese New Year Mochi Soup)-Japanese Taste

How To Make Ozoni (Japanese New Year Mochi Soup)

by Mana Sobral

Soup Chicken Easy Gluten-Free Traditional New Year's Food Winter Mochi Under 30 Minutes

Ozoni, a traditional Japanese soup, is akin to a warm family hug in a bowl, especially cherished during New Year's festivities. What makes it truly special is how it varies from region to region and from one family's kitchen to the next. It's a dish as diverse and unique as the people who prepare it.

Back in the day, mochi was a treat for special occasions. People would make mochi from rice harvested in the previous year, offering it to the deity believed to arrive during the New Year. They would then transform those offerings into Ozoni, savoring it as a way of expressing gratitude for the good crops of the past year and wishing for a bountiful new one and household safety. This practice marks the beginning of consuming Ozoni in the new year.

At the heart of Ozoni lies the broth, with two main styles: Kansai-style and Kanto-style. In Kansai (like the Osaka area), they tend to opt for a rich and creamy white miso base, a velvety hug for your taste buds. Meanwhile, in Kanto (like the Tokyo area), a clear dashi broth seasoned delicately with soy sauce and salt takes precedence, offering a gentle whisper of flavors. Some regions even present a sweet red bean variation, reminiscent of oshiruko.

Family traditions and regional quirks shine through in the additional ingredients. In Kanto-style, you might find chicken, kamaboko (fish cake), carrots, and spinach gracing the bowl, keeping the focus on the pure essence of dashi. Kansai-style gets a bit more complex with taro (satoimo), daikon radish, carrots, and yuba (tofu skin), a flavorful medley mirroring local tastes and ingredient availability.

The choice between Kanto-style and Kansai-style Ozoni often reflects regional influences passed down through generations. In my Kansai home, we grew up enjoying Kanto-style Ozoni, influenced by my parents' upbringing, despite their Kansai roots. This tradition in our home traces back to my great-grandparents’ generation, a heartwarming connection to our roots shared through a bowl of soup that we want to pass on to others.

Ozoni is a family heirloom, a cherished tradition, and a celebration of Japan's culinary diversity. It's a reflection of the love and culture of the family that prepares it and the regional pride that makes it special.


Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Total servings: 4

Difficulty: Easy

  • 800 ml Dashi
  • 2 tsp Light Soy Sauce (to help keep the broth's color)
  • Salt to taste
  • 100 g Chicken Breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 50 g Carrots
  • 4 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 4 Pieces of Dried Rice Cake (Mochi)
  • 4 Springs Watercress or Mitsuba (Optional)

Expert's Tip

How To Make Ozoni (Japanese New Year Mochi Soup)

When talking about ozoni, it's all about the magic of mochi! These Sato Kirimochi Dried Japanese Rice Cakes make it a breeze to enjoy soft, delicious bites. Plus, they're pre-cut, allowing you to effortlessly break them into cozy, bite-sized pieces by hand—no fuss, just fun!


1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients & prepare the dashi. Here is our recipe for making dashi. 

2) Preparing the Shiitake Mushrooms

Trim off the stems from the mushroom caps. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at decorative vegetable cutting! Here's how:

  • Create three lines that intersect at the mushroom's center.
  • Gently cut along the marked lines with a petty knife, curving towards the marks as you proceed.
  • Repeat these cuts from the opposite side. Perform the same cut for the remaining lines as well

3) Cutting Out Decorative Carrot Pieces

Slice the carrot into approximately 0.315-inch pieces. For an adorable touch, use a vegetable cutter to shape the carrot into flowers. Place the flower-shaped cutter in the center of the carrot and cut to give it a charming floral appearance.

Tip: Don't discard the leftover bits from your decorative cutting. Chop them finely and let them enhance the flavor of fried rice, pasta sauce, or serve as soup ingredients – no waste, just added yumminess!

4) Cutting the Chicken

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

5) Grilling the Mochi

Place the mochi in the toaster. After approximately 10 minutes, the mochi will puff up and turn a lovely golden brown. Flip them and grill the other side until it achieves a nice brown color. 

Remove the mochi once both sides are beautifully browned. Be careful not to burn the mochi!

6) Simmering the Soup

While grilling the mochi, let’s prepare the soup! 

Pour the dashi into the pot and bring it to a boil. Add chicken, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms. Simmer on low heat for approximately 8 minutes. (Remove mushrooms after about 5 minutes to avoid overcooking.) 

Season with light soy sauce and salt to taste. Remove all ingredients from the soup for plating.

7) Assembling the Ozoni

Get creative and plate your ozoni the way you like, adding your personal touch! If you’re unsure, take a cue from ours!

Place the mochi and chicken at the bottom of the bowl since they tend to sink. Arrange a shiitake mushroom and a carrot on top of them. Pour the soup with a ladle into the bowl. Add some love to your dish with fresh herbs like watercress or mitsuba (Japanese parsley), or even a hint of zest with yuzu peel if you can snag them!

8) Enjoying the Ozoni

Enjoy the hot soup and stretchy mochi goodness before the soup gets cold!

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