grandma sumida’s pork watercress soup

Michelle Liu
March 21, 2023

Sumida Farm is known for its green oasis of watercress grown in the freshwater springs of the Kalauao and sprawled across five acres in Aiea. Emi Suzuki (nee Sumida) and her husband, Kyle, are running the farm, 95 years after her great-grandparents started it. 

Emi and Kyle Suzuki with their daughters. Photo courtesy Sumida Farm

All four generations of the Sumida family have shaped the farm and the way it operates, and much of it is based on the leadership and success of the second generation. While Masaru Sumida was the face of the farm and worked to advance the interest of all farms in Hawaii, his wife, Norma Sumida, ran the operations at home. She kept meticulous books and sales for the business and family. Emi says her grandma’s old records are still helping her in her farm management role to this day. 

And those documents weren’t the only things passed down in the Sumida family. Emi says her family’s culture is all about food and watercress, and Norma’s classic pork watercress soup recipe has been passed down for generations. 

Emi was just 3 years old when her grandmother died, but her family has told her all the stories – Norma would make the soup with pork bones given to her by local butchers in exchange for Sumida Farm watercress. She’d throw the bones in a pot and let them simmer all day while she ran errands, worked in the farm office, and took care of the kids. 

You can do the same, especially if you work remotely! Prepare the soup while making breakfast and check on it throughout the day. It will be ready by the time your work day is over and the kids are home from school – providing the perfect opportunity to bring the family together for dinner. 


By Emi Suzuki

Photo courtesy Sumida Farm


  • 1 bunch watercress
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lbs. pork bones or spareribs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • Water
  • Hawaiian salt


Chop the top part of the watercress and leaves into 1-inch pieces. Set aside in the refrigerator. Remove twist-tie and tie the remaining stems with kitchen string. Salt and pepper the pork bones. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and brown the pork on all sides for 10-15 minutes. Brown in batches, if necessary. Remove pork. 

Add onion to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until translucent. Return pork to the pot with the tied watercress stems and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, skim fat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 3 hours or more (the longer the better), skimming often and adding water if too much cooks away. Take out the pork from the soup and pull the meat from the bones. Return meat to the pot and discard bones. Remove watercress stems and add the leaves that were previously set aside. Simmer 10 minutes. Add Hawaiian salt to taste.

If you’re short on time, the Sumida Farm chef, Chris Fujimoto, created a riff on Grandma's recipe that’s cooked in an Instant Pot and can be ready in under 40 minutes.

In the mood for more soup and other comforting dishes? Check out these recipes:

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