Sapporo Soup Curry Recipe
Have you guys heard of Japanese soup curry? It’s like curry, but soupier. Sounds silly, but that’s what it is. Soup curry hails from the Hokkaido region of Japan, the snowy north. Hokkaido is known for snow (of course) and being the “bread basket” of Japan. They grow a lot of vegetables there so it makes sense that they are known for good food – farm to table and all that. So it’s no surprise that they came up with their own regional curry that has a lot of vegetables in it.
But, let’s back up a bit first because maybe you’re thinking, wait, why does Japan have curry at all? Truth is, Japanese curry is not really like any other curry in the world. It has curry powder in it, but that’s essentially the only similarity Japanese curry has with any other. Curry was first introduced to Japan by the British (who have their own obsession with curry), which is one culture removed from India, so seeing that Japan got into curry with a British influence, it’s not surprising that they have completely own twist on it. Typically Japanese curry is slightly sweet, thick, and very much like a stew with not too much meat, carrots, and potatoes.
Soup curry, on the other hand, is essentially a curry flavored soup served with a bit of meat and a huge variety of vegetables. Soup curry is one of the dishes Sapporo, the main city in Hokkaido, is known for, and there are several soup curry chains that have expanded down to Tokyo. Mike and I are obsessed with one chain in particular, Rojiura Curry Samurai.
How it works is, they have a curry soup base, either veggie or meat. There are toppings you can add and you can adjust the spice and flavor of the curry accordingly. They serve it with rice and most people scoop up a bit of rice and dip it into the soup. So good on a cold day – it warms you right up! Most soup curries come with a plethora of vegetables. Usually it’s what’s in season. The vegetables are cooked separately from the soup and they come prepared a variety of ways: deep-fried, blanched, raw. For this home version, I just went with deep-fried vegetables to stay true to the Sapporo way. This recipe takes a bit of time and preparation, but it’s oh so worth it.
Happy soup curry-ing!
Sapporo Chicken Vegetable Soup Curry Recipe
serves 2 generously
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon – 1/2 tablespoon cayenne, based on spice tolerance
- 2.5 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon soy
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- butternut squash, sliced
- kabocha, sliced
- zucchini, sliced
- mushrooms, halved
- carrot spears
- broccoli florets
- boiled potato, cut into wedges
- oil, to deep fry
- steamed rice
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion, and cook, until soft, but not brown, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and stir in, cooking over medium heat. Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, sake, soy, and mirin. Add the bay leaf and turn the heat up to bring the soup to a simmer. Add the chicken legs and adjust the heat so that the soup is simmering very gently, only a couple of bubbles should break the surface. Cook, partially covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, make your rice according to your favorite method, then get started on the vegetables. You can use any kinds of vegetables as toppings, all we’re going to do is deep-fry them. Make sure all of your vegetables are very dry with no water on the surfaces whatsoever.
Heat up 2 inches of oil (I prefer grapeseed) in a deep-sided, heavy bottomed pot over medium-heat, until the oil reaches 375°F. Fry the vegetables, in batches, until they take on a crisp, slightly brown color. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels. The vegetables will take varying times in the hot oil, but generally, things take about 1-3 minutes. The potatoes will take much longer (the potatoes need to be boiled until tender, yet firm, before frying).
Once all of the vegetables are cooked, ladle some soup into a shallow bowl and place the chicken in the bottom of the bowl. Arrange the vegetables around and serve rice on a place, on the side. Enjoy!