Japanese Napa Cabbage Soup

Step right in and experience the comforting flavors of my Japanese Napa Cabbage Soup, a delightful combination of thinly sliced pork belly and tender Napa cabbage simmered in a flavorful dashi broth! With only seven simple ingredients and a quick 15-minute prep, this hearty soup is an ideal appetizer for any Japanese-inspired meal. Warm up your kitchen and treat your taste buds to this delicious and nutritious dish that’s bound to be a favorite!

Japanese napa cabbage soup served in a white bowl.

Why I Love This Recipe

As someone who grew up on Japanese food, this is my go to comforting recipe for its simplicity, heartiness, and versatility! Drawing inspiration from the flavors of my Pork Shabu Shabu and Japanese Shirataki Noodle Soup, I crafted this soup to combine the comforting flavors of napa cabbage with tender pork belly in a flavorful dashi broth!

Crafted with my own unique soup seasoning, it boasts a delightful umami savoriness with subtle hints of ponzu, making it the perfect side soup to complement a variety of Japanese dishes. With its tender cabbage and savory pork belly, this soup is an absolute must-try for anyone seeking genuine Japanese flavors!



  • Pork Belly – thinly sliced about 1/8 inch thickness. Can usually be found in Japanese grocery stores or Asian markets.
  • Napa – also known as Chinese cabbage, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Dashi fish broth made from steeping kombu and bonito flakes with boiling water. Can also use Hondashi mixed in water for instant dashi.
  • Ginger – fresh and thinly sliced.
  • Salt – sea salt preferred.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. 
  • Ponzu – a citrus flavored soy sauce found in most Japanese supermarkets, Mizkan brand preferred.

🥢 Dashi Pro Tip

For easier preparation of the dashi, use Hondashi mixed with water. This quick tip simplifies the process and ensures a flavorful base for your dish.

Napa aka Chinese cabbage cut on a wooden cutting board.


Step 1 Start by preparing Dashi using your preferred method then wit combine sliced ginger, salt, Japanese sake, and ponzu.

Soup base for Japanese napa cabbage soup.

Step 2 Next, wash and cut the napa leaves into 1-inch pieces and place them in a stovetop pot. Pour the prepared soup base over the napa leaves and bring it to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the napa reaches your desired tenderness.

Japanese napa cabbage soup in a pot.

🍲 Cooking Pot Pro Tip

For optimal results, select a cooking pot that Snugly Fits All the Napa Cabbage. This ensures even cooking of the cabbage leaves, allowing them to simmer and tenderize uniformly in the flavorful dashi broth. If needed, add more dashi to make sure the cabbage leaves are fully submerged.

Step 3 Finally, add the sliced pork belly, cover, and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Japanese napa cabbage soup with pork belly in a pot.

Pairing Recommendations

This comforting soup pairs beautifully with a variety of light Japanese dishes such as Seared Hamachi Yellowtail or Japanese Baked Salmon Belly, accompanied by your choice of rice.

Japanese napa cabbage soup served in a white bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular cabbage instead of Napa cabbage?

Regular green cabbage is not a suitable substitute for Napa cabbage in this recipe. The distinct taste and texture of Napa cabbage are essential for achieving the authentic flavors and experience of the dish. Therefore, it's recommended to use Napa cabbage for the best results.

What can I substitute for pork belly in this recipe?

If you prefer, you can substitute cubed chicken thigh for the pork belly in this recipe. However, it's important to note that this substitution may slightly alter the taste of the soup.

Are there any tips for selecting the best quality ingredients?

When selecting the best quality ingredients for this recipe, it's important to choose Napa cabbage leaves that are vibrant green and free from any holes or damage.


Japanese napa cabbage soup served in a white bowl with wooden spoon.

Storage Tips

Simply place the leftover in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days.

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Watch How To Make It

Japanese napa cabbage soup served in a white bowl.

Japanese Napa Cabbage Soup

Experience the comforting flavors of my Japanese Napa Cabbage Soup, a delightful blend of succulent pork and tender Napa cabbage simmered in a flavorful broth. Perfect for chilly days or as a hearty side dish, this soup is sure to satisfy your cravings for authentic Japanese comfort food.
4.85 from 13 votes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese cabbage soup, pork and napa cabbage soup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Print Recipe
Calories: 399kcal


  • 1 lbs Pork Belly thinly sliced about 1/8 inch thickness
  • 4-6 Leaves Napa Chinese cabbage
  • 3-4 Cups Dashi will depend on the pot size you use
  • 1 Inch Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Japanese Sake
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Ponzu


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients for Japanese napa cabbage soup.
  • Prepare 3 cups of dashi.
    Dashi in a mixing bowl.
  • In a mixing bowl, add sliced ginger, salt, dashi, Japanese sake and ponzu. Mix well and set aside.
    Soup base for Japanese napa cabbage soup.
  • Prepare napa cabbage by washing and cutting into 1 inch pieces. Once cut, pack into a 1.5 quartz stove top pot as shown below.
    Napa stuffed in a pot.
  • Pour over soup base and from step 4) into 1.5 quartz stove top pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Note the cabbage should be fully submerged in the dashi broth. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until done to liking.
    Japanese napa cabbage soup in a pot.
  • Add in sliced pork belly and cook for 2-4 minutes (time will vary depending on the thickness of pork belly).
    Japanese napa cabbage soup with pork belly in a pot.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy the soup hot!
    Japanese napa cabbage soup served in a bowl.


Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 22mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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