Ozoni: New Year’s Day Soup

Japanese New Years Soup

Zoni is sure to be eaten during New Year festivities in Japan. This culinary tradition apparently began around the mid-1400s, when mochi offered to the gods and Buddha on New Year’s Eve (Omisoka, now December 31), was eaten in a soup with other ingredients on the morning of New Year’s Day (Gantan, now January 1). The tradition is an important part of life in Japan.
The word zoni is written as two characters: zo means “this and that,” and ni means “boiled.” So zoni literally means “various ingredients boiled together.”


Mochi Soup

The “this and that” boiled in the soup varies by region and family. The above article notes that if you know what kind of ozoni a person eats, you will know where the person is from. Here are some examples of regional ozoni soups. The translation to English is a bit shaky, but you can see the soup broth is sometimes clear, sometimes with miso, sometimes dashi, sometimes chicken stock. The rice cakes can be round or rectangular, boiled or grilled. Some soups have chicken, fish, kamaboko, roe, or tofu. Vegetables include greens, cabbage, carrots, burdock, daikon, negi, taro… And here are more variations. They all look and sound delicious.

OzoniSimple Ozoni
serves 3

  • 3-6  pieces mochi
  • 4 cups dashi (Japanese fish st0ck)
  • 3 Tablespoons Saikyo miso
  • 9-12 slices narutomaki
  • a handful of watercress per person

Toast mochi until puffy (it may get lightly browned), about 10 minutes at 400°F. Meanwhile, bring dashi to a simmer. Add naritomaki slices and cook just to warm it up. Put toasted mochi into individual bowls and ladle soup over the top.

Round Rice Cakes and Narutomaki
Mochi Rice Cakes

Mochi package front

Mochi Rice Cakes

Mochi package back

Mochi Rice Cakes

Mochi individually wrapped

Mochi Rice Cakes

Mochi, uncooked

Japanese New Year's Day Soup

Happy New Year!

Mochi Rice Cakes

Mochi, roasted


Kamaboko: Narutomaki

Narutomaki Kamaboko

Narutomaki: Fish Cake

Narutomaki Kamaboko

Narutomaki, sliced

9 thoughts on “Ozoni: New Year’s Day Soup

  1. Hi, I’m Naoko living in Japan.
    I found your wonderful blog by the incoming links to me.
    I am learning English now and trying to express my Japanese life including cooking on my blog, but I sometimes don’t know the proper English words for Japanese foods or cooking methods. I will learn much from your blog!!

  2. Hi Naoko!

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m learning about Japanese foods and cooking methods so sometimes I don’t get things quite right, but it’s still interesting.

    It’s sort of like traveling to a new country for dinner. I’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s beginning to feel like home. I miss miso soup when I haven’t had any in a while.

  3. hi naoko!
    can you tell me : how to make narutomaki japanese foods? watashi wa betonamujin, domo arigato!

  4. hello,
    i need to know where i can find narutomaki in orlando florida the US please help me! :)
    arigato gozaimasu

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