Ozoni (Japanese New Year's Soup) With Mochi, Chicken, and Vegetables Recipe

Every New Year's Day in Japan, families sit down to eat a bowl of ozoni, a soup studded with tender, chewy mochi and lots of other tasty bites.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Chicken stock, while not traditional, adds an even deeper flavor to the broth.
  • Marinating the chicken in sake and salt gives it a richer, more umami-packed flavor, and also helps it retain its juices during cooking.

Ozoni is one of Japan's traditional New Year's foods. It comes in many forms depending on the locale and family, but it always features a seasoned broth with tender and chewy pieces of mochi (glutinous rice cake). This recipe pulls from a variety of regional styles and family practices. The broth is made like dashi—infused with kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, and bonito flakes—but here the liquid used is chicken stock, an uncommon practice in Japan (you can, optionally, use water instead). It's then seasoned with soy sauce and served with a range of goodies, including vegetables like carrot, daikon, and spinach as well as pieces of tender sake-marinated chicken.

Adapted from family recipes provided by Marc Matsumoto and Maiko Kyogoku.

Recipe Facts

Active: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 ounces; 170g each), cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) dry sake

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 ounce (30g) sliced or whole dried shiitake mushrooms

  • 1/3 ounce (10g) kombu (about two 6- by 2-inch pieces)

  • 2 quarts (2 liters) warm white or brown chicken stock, low-sodium chicken broth, or water (see note)

  • One 4-ounce (115g) bunch spinach, washed well

  • One 3 1/2 ounce (100g) piece burdock root, peeled, julienned, and held in water acidulated with lemon juice

  • One 3 1/2 ounce (100g) lotus root, peeled, sliced crosswise about 2mm thick, and held in water acidulated with lemon juice (optional)

  • 1 large (4 1/2 ounce; 125g) carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/16-inch (1.5mm) thick rounds (cut with a channel knife to look like flowers, if desired)

  • 1 small (4 1/2 ounce; 125g) daikon, peeled and sliced into 1/16-inch (1.5mm) thick rounds (cut with a channel knife to look like flowers, if desired)

  • Large pinch bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) light (usukuchi) or dark (koikuchi) Japanese soy sauce, plus more as needed

  • 8 slices naruto kamaboko (Japanese white fish cake with pink swirl), each about 2mm thick

  • 3 rectangular pieces of kiri mochi, each split into 4 pieces along scored lines (see note

  • 8 sprigs mitsuba (Japanese parsley; optional)

  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

  • Zest of half a fresh yuzu, Meyer lemon, or regular lemon


  1. In a small bowl, stir together chicken, sake, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, cover shiitake mushrooms and kombu with the warm stock or water. Let stand 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to rolling boil and set up an ice bath. Add spinach and boil until tender, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer spinach to ice bath to chill. Remove from ice bath, squeeze out excess water, then roughly chop. Set aside.

  4. Return water to a boil, add burdock root and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer burdock to ice bath, then remove from ice bath and set aside in small bowl. Add lotus root, if using, to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Shock in ice bath, then transfer to another small bowl and set aside.

  5. Add carrot and daikon to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Shock in ice bath, then drain and reserve in small bowl.

  6. Set pot with shiitake mushrooms and kombu over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove kombu (you can save it for another use). Add bonito flakes and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof container. Rinse out saucepan, then return strained broth to saucepan.

  7. Add soy sauce to broth, then taste, adding more if desired; you can also season with some salt if you want more sodium without a stronger soy flavor.

  8. Return broth to a gentle simmer. Drain chicken of excess liquid, then add to broth and cook for 2 minutes. Add sliced fish cake and cook for 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to the barest simmer to keep warm.

  9. Heat a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add dry mochi pieces to skillet and cook, turning every 30 seconds, until puffed and golden on both sides; adjust heat as needed to develop a nice color on the mochi without burning it.

  10. Divide mochi among 4 serving bowls. Arrange burdock root, lotus, spinach, carrot, daikon, chicken, and fish cake in each bowl. Ladle hot broth into each bowl. Garnish with mitsuba, scallions, and citrus zest. Serve.

Special equipment

Cast iron skillet, 3-quart saucepan


Chicken stock isn't traditional in ozoni, but it was an aspect of Maiko Kyogoku's family recipe we found added a lot of depth. Feel free to use water instead. If you do use chicken stock, you can use any you happen to have on hand, though we particularly like making a very simple and clean version of it for this soup with just the chicken parts, onions, and garlic while omitting carrot, celery, and herbs. Kiri mochi are sold as hard, dried blocks wrapped in plastic packaging; they are often scored along one surface, making it possible to split each block into 4 pieces.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The broth base (all the way through seasoning with soy sauce) can be made up to 3 days in advance; keep refrigerated and return to a simmer before cooking chicken and fish cake. The blanched vegetables can all be blanched up to 1 day in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to use.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
484 Calories
16g Fat
52g Carbs
38g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 484
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 128mg 43%
Sodium 942mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 20mg 100%
Calcium 134mg 10%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 1389mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)