Monthly Recipe: Zen vegetable chowder

Monthly recipe is back, and this time I needed something quick, simple, and healthy so I adapted a recipe from Yo! Sushi – The Japanese Cookbook by Kimiko Barber. The recipe is called ‘Zen vegetable chowder’, but what makes it ‘Zen’? Well, this recipe is based on Buddhist vegan cuisine known as shojin ryori (精進料理), which means it’s super healthy and quite pure and simple. The recipe can be adapted to use up any vegetables you happen to have lying around, so it’s a really good one to have up your sleeve.

Zen vegetable chowder

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 potato
  • 100g broccoli
  • handful of green beans
  • handful of asparagus
  • handful of sugar snap peas
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 litre vegetarian dashi stock (made from 2 postcard-size pieces of konbu, a few dried shitake mushrooms, 1 litre of water)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp cornflour, mixed into a paste with 1 tbsp cold water

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder


First, make the dashi. Wipe the konbu clean with damp kitchen paper and make some tears in it to help it to infuse and for the maximum release of flavour.

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Place the konbu and the mushrooms in a saucepan with water and leave to soak for at least one hour (or overnight).

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Bring the dashi slowly to the boil over a low heat. Remove the konbu when it begins to float to the surface, just before the water reaches boiling point. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly for 2 minutes, then set aside to cool to room temperature. Remove the mushrooms.

Next, prepare the vegetables. Cut everything into small pieces.

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Heat the oils in a large saucepan for 1-2 minutes over a medium heat, then add all the vegetables. Stir them gently for 5-7 minutes.

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Add the dashi and turn up the heat to high until the stock is almost boiling.

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and mirin.

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder

Add the cornflour paste, stir and bring the stock back to just below boiling point.


Cooking: Zen vegetable chowder


I’ll be back in June with a new recipe. If you have any suggestions, or perhaps you would like me to try one of your recipes from a book or website, please leave a comment below or get in touch! All the recipes I try on this blog have some connection to Japan and, because I don’t eat meat, they need to be vegetarian or pescetarian. I’m particularly interested in helping to promote Japanese recipe books, so do let me know if you have one I might like!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s