zenDine Logo

Japanese Oden Soup: A Classic Autumn Dish

Table of Contents

Japan is famous for its rich culinary heritage, and oden soup is one of its most beloved dishes. This traditional Japanese soup is a popular autumn comfort food and is enjoyed by many across the country.

Oden soup is a savory and warming dish made with a variety of ingredients simmered in a seasoned broth. It has a comforting and earthy flavor that is perfect for chilly autumn days. If you're interested in trying this dish at home, keep reading to learn more about its history, ingredients, and how to prepare it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Oden soup is a traditional Japanese dish enjoyed during the autumn season.
  • The dish is made up of various ingredients simmered in a seasoned broth.
  • Oden soup has a comforting and earthy flavor that is perfect for chilly days.
  • Stay tuned as we delve into the origins, ingredients, flavors, and recipe for making this delicious soup.

The Origins of Oden Soup

Street vendor selling Oden soup in Japan during the Edo period

Oden soup is a traditional Japanese dish that is popular during the autumn and winter months. The dish has a rich history and cultural significance in Japan, dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Oden soup was initially a street food sold during the cold winter months to keep people warm. Over time, it became a household staple and is now a celebrated dish in Japan.

Oden soup is a simple yet flavorful dish that typically consists of a variety of ingredients simmered in a light dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and sake. The ingredients used in oden soup vary depending on the region and personal preference, but some of the most common ones include fish cakes, daikon radish, boiled eggs, and tofu.

Oden soup's popularity has spread beyond Japan, and it is now enjoyed in other parts of Asia, including Korea and Taiwan. Its unique flavors and comforting nature have made it a favorite among many across the world.

Ingredients for Oden Soup

Ingredients for making traditional Oden soup laid out on a table

Oden soup is a simple yet flavorful soup that is a staple of Japanese cuisine. The base of the soup is a dashi broth, made with dried kelp and bonito flakes. Other key ingredients include soy sauce, mirin, and sake, which add depth and complexity to the broth. For the ingredients, you can use a variety of options based on your preference, but some of the elements we recommend are:

Ingredients Description
Daikon Radish A mild, white radish that is commonly used in Japanese cooking and can be sliced or cubed for the soup.
Tofu Silken tofu is the perfect addition to oden soup, as it soaks up the rich flavors of the broth and provides a smooth texture.
Fish Cakes Thinly sliced fish cakes come in a variety of shapes and are a popular component of oden soup, adding both flavor and texture.
Boiled Eggs Soft-boiled eggs are a classic addition to oden soup, with the yolk providing extra richness to the broth.
Konjac A jelly-like substance that is typically sold in block form and is sliced into bite-sized pieces for the soup. It has a unique texture and helps add variety to the dish.

While these are some of the standard ingredients, the beauty of oden soup is that you can customize it based on your preference. You can add other seafood like fish, shrimp, or clams, or use meat like chicken or pork in oden soup. Some regions even add vegetables like carrots or potatoes to the mix. The possibilities are endless!

When shopping for ingredients, look for Japanese grocery stores or online retailers that specialize in Japanese cuisine. This ensures that you get authentic ingredients that will help create a traditional-tasting oden soup.

Now that you know the essential ingredients to make oden soup, it's time to move on to the cooking techniques. Keep reading to learn how to make this delicious soup.

Cooking Techniques for Oden Soup

Cooking process of Oden soup with ingredients being added to the simmering broth

To make a delicious oden soup, it's important to follow the right cooking techniques. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Begin by preparing the dashi broth. This forms the base of the soup and provides its distinct umami flavor.
  2. Add the soy sauce, mirin, and sake to the broth, and bring it to a boil. These ingredients help to enhance the flavor of the soup.
  3. Next, add the main ingredients to the pot. These often include daikon radish, fish cakes, and konjac. You can also add other ingredients to create variations in flavor and texture.
  4. Cover the pot and simmer the ingredients together for at least an hour. This allows the flavors to meld together and gives the soup its distinctive taste.
  5. Once the soup is finished cooking, you can adjust the seasoning to taste. Add more soy sauce or salt if necessary.
  6. Finally, serve the oden soup in individual bowls, along with the ingredients and broth. You can garnish it with green onions or shichimi togarashi for added flavor.

With these cooking techniques in mind, you'll be able to make a flavorful and satisfying oden soup at home.

Expert tip: For an even richer flavor, try reheating the soup the next day. The longer the ingredients soak in the broth, the more flavorful it becomes.

Variations of Oden Soup

Three regional variations of Oden soup: Kanto, Kansai, and Hokkaido styles

While oden soup is a traditional Japanese dish, it varies across different regions and seasons. The variations on oden soup have unique flavors and ingredients that make them special. Here are some of the best oden soup flavors and variations to try:

Kanto Style Oden Soup

Kanto style oden soup is a specialty of Tokyo and uses more fish-based ingredients than other regions. It is common to find chikuwa, a tube-shaped fish cake, and hanpen, a fluffy fish cake, in this variation. The broth is often darker and richer than other variations, thanks to the addition of soy sauce and mirin.

Kansai Style Oden Soup

Kansai style oden soup is a specialty of the Osaka region and is known for its light and clear broth. This variation uses more vegetable-based ingredients, such as daikon and konjac, than other regions. It is also common to find mochi, which adds a chewy texture to the soup.

Hokkaido Style Oden Soup

Hokkaido style oden soup is a specialty of the northern island of Hokkaido and is known for its use of fresh seafood. This variation often includes crab, scallops, and squid, and the broth is made with a combination of dashi and miso paste. It is also common to find butter and corn added to the soup, giving it a creamy and hearty flavor.

Seasonal Variations

Seasonal variations of oden soup can be found across Japan. In the winter, it is common to find a variation with yuzu or Japanese citrus fruit, which adds a bright and refreshing flavor to the soup. In the summer, a lighter and more refreshing variation includes tomato and okra.

Whether you prefer a rich and flavorful broth or a light and clear one, there is an oden soup variation for everyone. Try experimenting with different ingredients and cooking techniques to find your perfect bowl of oden soup.


Oden soup is a beloved traditional Japanese dish that has a rich cultural significance. It is a comforting and satisfying soup that comes in many variations and flavors. Whether you prefer the Kanto style with fish cakes or the Hokkaido style with fresh seafood, oden soup is a dish that can be enjoyed by everyone. So why not try making it at home and experience the delicious flavors of oden soup?


Oden is a traditional Japanese stew made with various ingredients simmered in a seasoned broth. It's considered a classic autumn dish because of its warming and comforting nature, perfect for the cooler seasons.

To make oden at home, you'll need a variety of ingredients like fish cakes, daikon radish, and tofu, all simmered in a dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin. The exact ingredients can vary based on personal preference and regional variations.

Japanese fish cakes, known as ‘chikuwa’ and ‘hanpen’, are made from ground fish and other seasonings. They add a unique texture and flavor to the oden, soaking up the rich dashi broth and enhancing the overall taste of the stew.

Yes, you can prepare oden at home using a clay pot, which helps in slow cooking and retaining heat. This method allows the ingredients to simmer gently, infusing the broth with deeper flavors compared to other cooking methods.

Oden is traditionally served in individual bowls with the broth. Fish cakes and fish balls, essential components of oden, are often skewered and simmered in the stew, then served alongside other ingredients like daikon and tofu.

While there are regional variations of oden across Japan, the classic Japanese oden recipe typically includes ingredients like fish cakes, daikon radish, and tofu simmered in a dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin. However, the beauty of oden lies in its versatility, allowing for customization based on personal preferences.