Instant Pot Sumo Soup (Chanko Nabe). Sumo wrestler soup, loaded with homemade meatballs, tofu, mushrooms, and chicken broth.
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Japanese Hot Pots, by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat. It’s a slim volume dedicated to, well, Japanese Hot Pots, and is a fantastic source of comfort meals.
What is Chanko Nabe?
Chanko Nabe is the hot pot I keep coming back to. It is the protein heavy soup that sumo wrestlers eat (and eat, and eat) to bulk up. Now, I may not want the bulk of a sumo, but they are on to something good with this soup. Chicken broth flavored with sake is used to simmer meatballs, tofu, mushrooms, and cabbage. (It’s an “everything leftover in the kitchen” type of soup, so if you’ve got other vegetables you want to add, throw them in there.)
The trick to this soup is homemade broth - it’s the trick to every soup, actually. If you don’t have homemade broth put aside, before you start this recipe, grab some chicken backs or a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store and get pressure cooking. Once you’ve made a soup with your own homemade broth, you will never want to go back to cartons of store-bought broth.
- Ground chicken
- Red or brown miso (or soy sauce)
- Panko bread crumbs
- Fine sea salt
- Sake (or dry sherry, or dry vermouth)
- Chicken broth
- Firm tofu
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Napa cabbage (or shredded green cabbage)
- Minced scallions (optional garnish)
- Yuzu Kosho (optional hot sauce accompaniment)
Most of the ingredients in this recipe can be found in a well-stocked modern grocery store. There were a few tricky ones for me, though. Miso is available at my local health food stores or Asian markets. Sake was at my local beverage store, but I had to dig for it - dry sherry or dry vermouth are OK substitutes.
The other tricky ingredient is Yuzu Kosho. It is a Japanese paste made from hot chilies, salt, and Yuzu, a citrus fruit that is kind of like a mandarin-orange sized grapefruit. (Hey, that’s the best explanation I can come up with for Yuzu.). I find it at Asian markets, and a spoon of it stirred in at the table adds a nice burst of citrus and heat to the soup.
Prepping the gingger: I like using my knife skills to mince the ginger into tiny cubes. Grating ginger is the quick way to prep it for this recipe, but it turns it into a paste. I like the extra bite of ginger when I get a piece of ginger in my soup, but there's nothing wrong with taking the easy way out. (Especially if it grating vs mincing is the difference in you making this recipe. Take the easy way out!)
How to Make Chanko Nabe
Shape the meatballs: Put the ground chicken, miso paste. scallion, ginger, bread crumbs, and salt in a large bowl, and work everything together until evenly mixed. Add the egg and work it into the mix. Form the meat mix into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter.
Simmer the meatballs in the sake, then everything in the pot: Put the meatballs in an Instant Pot in a single layer. Set the pot to sauté mode, then pour in the Sake. Bring the sake to a boil, and boil for 1 minute to cook off the alcohol. Pour in the chicken broth, and add the crushed garlic, tofu, mushrooms, and shredded cabbage.
Pressure Cook for 10 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure to come down naturally, about 20 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, quick release any remaining pressure after 15 minutes.)
Serve: Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with extra minced scallions, and serve, passing Yuzu Koshu hot sauce at the table.
This is a one-pot meal - you've got meat, vegetables, and starch all combined in one. I usually serve soups with a side salad, and my Napa Cabbage Slaw is what I usually make. A green side is also good, and I like serving with my bok choy recipe. If you can’t find Yuzu Koshu, substitute another hot sauce, like Sriracha or Gochujang. They add a bit of heat and vinegar to the bowl, even if they’re not Japanese.
Some recipes suggest adding udon noodles, so if you really want them, cook them separately and add them to the pot, or pass them at the table for people to add to their bowl.
Soup makes great leftovers, and this soup is no exception. I make up 2-cup containers with any leftovers, and they'll keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Inspired by: Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
Instant Pot Chicken Back Broth
Instant Pot Chinese Beef Noodle Soup with Short Ribs
Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs)
Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
My other Instant Pot and Pressure Cooker Recipes
Instant Pot Sumo Soup (Chanko Nabe)
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 bowls of soup 1x
Instant Pot Sumo Soup (Chanko Nabe). Sumo wrestler soup, loaded with homemade meatballs, tofu, mushrooms, and chicken broth. Inspired by: Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
- 1 ½ pounds ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon red or brown miso (or substitute soy sauce)
- 2 scallions, minced
- ½-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced or grated
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup Sake (or dry sherry, or dry vermouth)
- 4 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade chicken broth or store-bought low sodium broth)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (if using homemade broth)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- ½ pound firm tofu, cut into 8 slices
- 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 12)
- 8 ounces Napa cabbage, cut into bite sized pieces (or shredded green cabbage)
- Minced scallions for garnish
- Yuzu Kosho (or another hot sauce) for garnish
- Shape the meatballs: Put the ground chicken in a large bowl, and add the miso paste. Sprinkle the scallion, ginger, bread crumbs, and salt over the meat. Work everything into the chicken until evenly mixed. Add the egg and work it into the chicken. Form the mix into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs, each about 2 inches in diameter.
- Simmer the sake, then everything in the pot: Place the meatballs into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, setting them in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Set the pot to sauté mode (medium heat in a stovetop PC), then pour in the Sake. Bring the sake to a boil, then let it boil for 1 minute to cook off some of the alcohol. Pour in the chicken broth and (if using homemade broth) sprinkle with the salt. Add the crushed garlic, tofu and mushrooms to the broth, then sprinkle the cabbage over the top of everything.
- Pressure Cook for 10 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 8 minutes if using a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure to come down naturally, about 20 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, let the pressure come down for 15 minutes then quick release any remaining pressure.)
- Serve: Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the extra minced scallions, and serve, passing the Yuzu Koshu at the table for diners to add themselves. Enjoy!
Can’t find Yuzu Koshu? Pass another Asian hot sauce at the table, like Sriracha or Gochujang.
If you have to use store bought broth, you can. Get low sodium broth and skip the extra salt in the recipe.
6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Sunday Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Japanese
Keywords: Instant Pot Sumo Soup (Chanko Nabe), Pressure Cooker Sumo Soup (Chanko Nabe)
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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made this for my gf when she was sick - got tons of compliments and her asian parents also loved it!!
Mike Vrobel says
Great! I'm glad they enjoyed it.
How long in advance can I make the meatballs?
Mike Vrobel says
You can make them up to a day ahead, and refrigerate until you need them. (The USDA says that uncooked chicken lasts for a day in the fridge.)
Gillian Chan says
First time I’ve ever made Japanese food. This was a huge success with my husband and son. Yuzu Koshu was a revelation
Mike Vrobel says
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Jane Naismith says
Thanks Mike, I can’t wait to try this!
Mike Vrobel says
You're welcome! Try it - you'll like it.