Japanese Clear Onion Soup
Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.

The National Museum of American History notes that Americans started looking for different ways to enjoy outdoor grilling after World War II.

Part of the craze was impacted by people who traveled around the world and discovered they enjoyed the tropical flavors of the Caribbean and of Southeast Asia, which meant that the hibachi grill came into vogue, with some restaurants popping up that allowed diners to cook their own meals on the flat-top grills and people using the small cooktops in their backyards and even their apartments.

Personally, I love dishes that are in the “hibachi” style. They have a little char on them, and I adore the flavors of Japanese cooking.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing the components of an Asian-inspired meal I made for Joey and myself, including a fried rice and orange chicken recipe, so this week, I wanted to share the final component, a soup we both love to get as an appetizer at our favorite Japanese restaurant: clear onion soup.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Living Chirpy,” which features gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, so you might give them a look if that interests you. It’s by Roche Woodworth, and you can find the original post at https://www.livingchirpy.com/japanese-clear-onion-soup/. I adjusted the ingredients and instructions a bit to suit our tastes.

Japanese Clear Onion Soup

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.
Course: Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: cream of mushroom, gluten-free, onion, soup, sugar-free, vegetarian


  • 1/2 tablespoon oil I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 large celery stalk cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced thinly (I used white mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute until the onion is browned and soft.
  • Add broth, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the burner down to low and put the lid on the pot, simmering for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Strain the vegetables from the broth, and return the broth to the pot.
  • Add the mushrooms and green onions and let the soup cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Serve immediately as an appetizer for your favorite Asian-style dinner.

Joey and I discussed this soup a bit after our meal and agreed that it’s the perfect appetizer. There isn’t much to it, and it would never make a meal for someone (unless they were on a restricted diet or eating very little), but it’s a good way to get ready for your main course.

I used chicken broth in my version, but just a switch over to vegetable broth can make this recipe completely meat free, too. There’s a ton of flavor in this for such a simple recipe.

I recommend serving it in small bowls. It’s a fun way to start a meal, and now that you have all three of the components for the meal we tried, you can do it, too. It was definitely something different, and we enjoyed it immensely.

And, considering Americans have been enjoying the flavors of Asian cuisine for many, many decades, I suppose it’s a good way to celebrate our own history as well.

This piece first appeared in print on May 21, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.