Historically, February 8th is regarded as an important juncture that marks the time to start anew. Traditionally it referred to starting to work on the spring crops, or starting to “work” on something again after the new year holidays and winter “hibernation”. On this day, called “Kotoyouka”, people wished for good health and abundant crops. As a ritual, people often used all of the harvested vegetables and made a nutritious miso soup to celebrate with. This soup became known as “Okoto-shiru”, literally the “thing soup”.
This soup varies according to region, Kanto preferring a sweeter milder version with white miso, while Kansai preferred a stronger version made with red miso. Okoto-shiru is also known as “Mushitsu-jiru” which means 6-ingredient soup, where the common ingredients are: taro potato, carrots, radish, burdock, konjac and azuki beans. You can add whatever ingredients you want but try to add seasonal vegetables, mainly vegetables grown inside the soil, such as root vegetables. You can add as many as you want, but the idea is to add at least 6 varieties.
Celebrating the Chinese new year, and the coming of spring, it is the perfect menu to warm up to and talk about your new ideas and aspirations.
Here is a traditional recipe from the Kanto area.Give it a try and share what your plans are to start new things.
- 1/2 Sweet potato（100g）
- 1/4 Onion（50g）
- 1/2 Carrott（80g）
- 100g Burdock
- 1 Abura-age tofu
- 4 Tbsp of boiled azuki beans
- 1000㏄ Vegetable stock
- 3 Tbps White miso paste
- Cut the sweet potatoes into 1 cm half-moons, and cut the onions into thin slices.
- Cut carrots and and lotus root into 1 cm wide coins.
- Boil some water and pour it over the fried tofu to drain the oil. Shake the water off and cut into strips.
- Add the ingredients cut above to a pot with the vegetable stock and heat. When it boils, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add the azuki beans and simmer for a while as you dissolve the white miso. Be careful not to over boil once the miso has been added.