Kenchinjiru vs Tonjiru: Similar Japanese Soup Dishes
In Japanese cuisine, there are some similar soups, which sometimes look just like the same kind, so many people can’t clearly tell the difference.
If I give a representative example of such Japanese soup dishes, what comes to my mind right away is “Tonjiru (豚汁)” and “Kenchinjiru (けんちん汁)”.
The Difference: Ton-Jiru vs Kenchin-Jiru
Ton-Jiru and Kenchin-Jiru are both popular soup dishes in Japanese cuisine, but what is the definition of each? Today, I will talk about that.
The name of the Japanese soup dish, Tonjiru is made up of 2 words, “ton (豚)” which refers to “pork”, and “jiru (汁)”, the Japanese word for “soup”. As this indicates, the main ingredient in Tonjiru is pork.
Specifically, pork belly slices are usually prepared for the traditional Japanese soup and other typical ingredients include burdock root, carrot, konnyaku, daikon radish, and chopped green onions.
However, the vegetables used in Tonjiru vary depending on the region and each household, but the Japanese pork soup is definitely seasoned with miso fermented soybean paste.
On the other hand, Kenchinjiru has its roots in “Shojin Ryori (精進料理)”, the vegetarian diet eaten at Japanese Buddhist temples.
Therefore, Kenchinjiru is originally made without using meat. Besides, even using fish dashi stock (e.g. Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) or Niboshi (dried young sardines) is not allowed. Instead, the Kombu seaweed and Shiitake mushroom are substituted for them.
In the cooking, first, vegetables are stir-fried with some sesame oil, then soup stock is added and simmered, and last, the vegetable soup is seasoned with soy sauce. By the way, typical vegetables used in Kenchinjiru are daikon radish, carrot, burdock root, taro, konnyaku, and tofu.
However, in modern times, the ingredient used in Kenchinjiru varies depending on the region and each household, and besides, the soup is sometimes flavored with miso and may contain pork bits, just like Tonjiru.
Since the Tonjiru-like Kenchinjiru actually exists and is sometimes served in restaurants, many people can’t clearly tell how Kenchinjiru differs from Tonjiru soup.