Kenchin Jiru

Recipe 35 minPreparation Time 30 minCooking Time

Kenchin Jiru

35 minPreparation Time 30 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

Kenchin-jiru is vegetable miso soup, originally a dish in Buddhist temple cuisine — made with vegetables, mushrooms, and dashi (seaweed stock). The name kenjin comes from “kenchin,” a reference to the Zen Buddhist temple Kencho-ji in Kamakura, Japan. It’s traditionally made with root vegetables, but you can use any vegetables you like. This simmered one-pot meal features grilled eggplant, kabocha (Asian pumpkin), carrot, and daikon, along with konnyaku — a jelly-like Japanese yam cake — and fried tofu pouches, or abura-age. Miso gives the soup a robust flavor.

The Benefits

The fermented condiment miso, made with the beneficial bacteria Aspergillus oryzae, can help support your microbiome, promoting healthy flora and aiding in digestion. This vegetables in this soup are sources of a wide variety of nutrients and fiber. Konnyaku (yam cake) is mild-flavored and high in fiber.

Note: You will need to prepare Kombu & Shiitake Mushroom Dashi, or purchased dashi; or use the stock of your choice, available at select grocery stores, Asian markets, and online. 

Equipment: Medium-size donabe (clay pot) or heavy-bottomed pot


Serves 4
  • 1 medium Japanese eggplant
  • 1 Unit rectangular abura-age (fried tofu pouch)
  • 3 oz konnyaku (Japanese yam cake), torn into bite-size pieces by hand
  • 1 Tbsp ( 15 ml) sesame oil
  • 2 medium rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms (from making Kombu & Shiitake Mushroom Dashi), cut into thin slices (optional)
  • 3 oz (85 g) daikon, peeled and cut into 1/8-in (3-mm) thick disks and halved
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sake
  • 3 1/3 cups (800 ml) Kombu & Shiitake Dashi or your choice of stock
  • 1/4 medium kabocha, skin thinly peeled off, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-in (3-mm) thick disks
  • 1/4 cup (73 g) red miso
  • 1 or 2 tsp usukuchi shoyu (light-colored soy sauce)
  • Thinly sliced scallions or chopped chives for garnish
  • Shichimi togarashi to taste


  1. Step 1
    To prepare the eggplant, poke several holes with the tip of a knife on each eggplant. Set a grill on a stove top and grill them over medium-high heat. Rotate a few times so the eggplants cook evenly. Once they are partially charred and soft (it will take about 5 minutes), remove from the grill, cut off the hull of the stem and gently peel the skin. Cut each eggplant into bite-size pieces. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture. Set aside.
  2. Step 2
    Place the abura-age on the same grill net and lightly grill both sides just until fragrant and lightly colored, about 1 minute. Cut into thin strips and set aside.
  3. Step 3
    To prepare the soup, add the konnyaku to the donabe and set over medium heat. Sauté for a few minutes to release excess moisture (this will enhance the flavor and texture of the konnyaku).
  4. Step 4
    Add the sesame oil, followed by the abura-age, shiitake mushrooms, and daikon. Continue to sauté for a minute or so.
  5. Step 5
    Deglaze with the sake and pour in the dashi. Increase the heat to medium-high. As soon as the broth starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Step 6
    Add the kabocha and carrot, and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  7. Step 7
    Add the eggplant and stir. Gently whisk in the miso. Adjust the flavor with the usukuchi shoyu, if necessary. Turn off the heat. Let rest for a few minutes.
  8. Step 8
    Serve into individual bowls and sprinkle with scallions and shichimi togarashi, if you like.

Substitutions: Use any vegetables you have on hand in place of the eggplant, kabocha, daikon, and carrot

Zero Waste: The cooked skin of the kabocha is edible — and high in betacarotene and vitamins A and C