Soup Curry is a wonderful example of the magic that can happen when cuisines collide. Urban legend has it that an Indian restaurant in 1970’s Sapporo, Hokkaido Japan served both a popular chicken soup with Chinese spices as well as some traditional Indian curries. Someone had the brilliant idea to combine the two, and Soup Curry was born. Today there are over 200 Soup Curry shops in Sapporo. It is enjoyed year round and can be varied with seasonal ingredients, though it follows the same template of the curry broth, stewed meats and/or veggies, and steamed rice. I’m sharing my vegetarian version, which makes a light but satisfying meal. It’s also an excellent way to use up any veggies you have laying around…
The first time I had Soup Curry was over 10 years ago when we were traveling through Sapporo. As kids we never had much time to travel around Japan; we were too busy visiting family. But once my own children started spending summers in Japan, I was able to include my bucket list items to our visits. My sister was living in Tokyo at the time and agreed to go with us on our trip through Hokkaido. Unlike many other big cities in Japan, Sapporo has a very open spacious feel. Often, you have to walk single file in Tokyo because there’s physically no space otherwise. But Sapporo is different and the food there so special. From amazing seafood, to famous musk melons, sizzling”Ghengis Khan” Lamb BBQs, savory miso ramens, and of course their soup curries, it’s a foodie paradise. This vegetarian Soup Curry brings back all of those amazing memories for me…I hope you enjoy it just as much.
Curry is a very popular dish in Japan, though it is not like the tongue tingling Thai or Indian curries that might first come to mind. Japanese curry is more of a thick, gently spiced gravy. Packages of curry roux cubes are sold in a wide variety of flavors-some overtly sweet and some with more robust heat. I like a brand named House and their Java flavor, but feel free to experiment with others. I have seen curry roux packages at grocery stores with well stocked international aisles, and of course they are widely available at Asian markets. Grab a couple boxes and try my Beef Curry recipe too.
Start with the Soup Curry
I make a base with some aromatic vegetables to add some punch to the soup. The zucchini gives a little more body and thickness without affecting the flavor and not having to rely solely on the roux blocks. As with any good soup, we start by sweating the aromatics in some fat first to give you that well rounded flavor.
Soup Curry Vegetables
You could use any of your favorite vegetables here. I’m using a mix that’s ready available now, but heartier winter veggies would be equally wonderful here too. This recipe is a little unusual in that the vegetables don’t get cooked in the curry. The potato and carrot are boiled until tender, and then roasted with the rest of the veggies. Unlike most curries, soup curries are colorful and composed to be visually stunning, so a lot of care is taken to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. I make an extra effort when prepping the vegetables to cut them into attractive and uniform pieces, both so the final dish is appealing and so they cook uniformly.
Roast the vegetables until cooked through. If you really want them to get deeply browned, you can broil them for a couple of minutes.
I love how the addition of steamed rice makes this a complete meal. I hope you enjoy it’s soothing creaminess as much as I do. Try it and let me know! Rate and comment on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you.
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ½ large onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons peeled minced ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- ½ box curry roux blocks (about 3¼ oz)
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 small Chinese eggplant
- 1 large red bell pepper
- ¼ head cauliflower
- 2 small carrots
- 1 medium russet (Idaho) potato
- ¼ teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- ⅓ cup neutral oil
Make the soup curry:
- Trim and dice the zucchini into ½ inch pieces and set aside.
- Heat a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and the onions. Mix to combine and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is just starting to brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and bay leaves. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the zucchini, salt, sugar, ground pepper, and the vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover with a lid and lower heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Turn the heat off and take out the bay leaves.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup carefully until smooth.
- Add the curry blocks, breaking them into smaller squares in your hand. Turn the heat to medium, stir regularly, and let the roux melt into the soup. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the soup has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside until ready to serve.
Roast the vegetables:
- Heat the oven to 440 degrees and move the oven rack to the middle.
- Trim and cut the zucchini into 3 pieces lengthwise. Cut each zucchini log in half and set on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Trim the stem of the eggplants and cut a 1 ½ inch piece on an angle. Turn the eggplant a little and cut again. Repeat the rolling and cutting until you have cut all of the eggplant. Set it next to the zucchini on the baking sheet.
- Cut the red pepper in half and take out the seeds and stem. Cut the pepper into large 1 ½ inch pieces. Set it on the baking sheet.
- Break/cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and also set it on the baking sheet.
- Peel and trim the carrots. Cut the carrots on an angle into 1 ½ inch pieces. Put the carrots into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat to medium high and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Drain the water completely and add the carrots to the tray of veggies.
- Peel the potato and cut it in half lengthwise and then into large 2 inch pieces. Put the potato into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat to medium (you do not want to break up the potato by having it bounce around inside the pot) and simmer for 15-17 minutes until you can easily pierce it with a knife. Drain the water completely and add it to the tray of veggies.
- Season the vegetables with salt and ground pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. (If it’s easier, you can combine the seasonings in a small bowl. Mix it up and then sprinkle evenly on the vegetables.)
- Drizzle the vegetables with oil and toss the veggies to evenly coat.
- Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes until they are nicely browned and cooked through. If you would like a little more color on the veggies you can broil them for a couple of minutes after roasting.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat and then ladle it into shallow bowls. Arrange the vegetables on top of the soup and serve with steamed rice on the side.
*If you do not have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup ingredients to a standard blender. Only fill the blender cup 1/3 to 1/2. Be sure to take off the cover for the pour spout. Then take a kitchen towel and cover the opening. Carefully pulse the blender a couple of times to get it going, or start on low, and then blend until smooth.
To store leftovers, keep the soup separate from the soup. When you want to serve, heat the soup up and warm the veggies in the microwave for a couple minutes or in the oven at 375 for 7-10 minutes.
Keywords: soup curry, japanese, veggies, curry roux, vegetarian