Korean Inspired Kimchi Soup
There was a massive snow storm this past weekend in Seattle, with over a foot of fresh snow all across the city. We were lucky to have grabbed some of our favorite groceries from Uwajamaya before the storm and so we spent the weekend cooking up delicious hearty soups and hot pot. In addition to warming you up on a cold, winter evening, this Korean-inspired kimchi tofu soup recipe is great for lunches or a weeknight dinner, since it comes together quickly and keeps well in the fridge for a few days. This recipe is vegan (check the ingredients in your kimchi), but feel free to add in additional protein of your choice. This recipe was inspired by Geneva Boyett - a photographer and youtuber based in Chicago who always cooks up delicious recipes. Be sure to check out her channel for inspiration!
I am always looking for light, quick, easy, cheap, and delicious recipes to make at home. As much as we love checking out new restaurants, it's not always the best choice for our bodies or wallets. This spicy, rich, Korean-inspired kimchi and tofu soup mixes all the tangy flavors of kimchi and Korean red pepper with creamy tofu and rice cakes - plus, it's easy to adapt the recipe for vegan and gluten free diets!
Start by preparing your vegetables. You'll need to finely dice the onions and chop the kimchi into bite-sized pieces. Separate the green onions into the green and white portions - we'll be using the green tops for garnish at the end of the recipe.
First, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of sesame oil on the medium heat in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Then, add the onions, white portions of the green onions, and crushed red pepper and sauté for a few minutes until the onions become translucent and fragrant. I was able to use a mild, ground Korean red pepper so I used about one and a half tablespoons in this recipe. If you are using Italian red pepper flakes or another dried chili, scale the amount of pepper to your own preference/tolerance.
Next, add the kimchi and broth. Stir for a few minutes to make sure that all the spices are well incorporated into the vegetables and broth. Then, bring the whole mixture up to a simmer. This recipe is really simple and can be made with any broth of your choice. I found that a mushroom or seafood broth adds the most depth of flavor and umami, but vegetable broth or chicken broth will also work. If you intend to keep this recipe vegan, be sure to check your broth, bullion, or stock ingredients.
Meanwhile, drain the tofu and break up into medium size pieces. Using soft tofu means that tofu will continue to break up on its own while stirring the soup. If your rice cakes are frozen/vacuum sealed, you can open the packaging and soak the cakes in water for about 10-15 minutes to soften and break apart. They become very sticky once they are cooked so it is important to break them apart ahead of time. After the soup has simmered for about 10 minutes, add the tofu and rice cakes, being careful to drop the rice cakes in individually or a few at a time to avoid sticking. If you are making this soup for a meal prep, I recommend cooking the rice cakes in a separate pot of salted water and then drain and rinse once they are soft. You can add a serving of the cakes separately for each meal to avoid them expanding and soaking up all the broth.
If you are adding a protein to this soup, do so at this point as well. I would recommend cooked chicken thighs, pork, or shrimp (if raw, cook for just a few minutes), but any protein of your choice will work!
When you're ready to eat, add the soup to a bowl, being sure to get lots of veggies and broth. For extra protein, add a soft boiled or sunny side up egg to the soup (omit to keep this recipe vegan). Top with fresh green onions and a dash of red pepper flakes for extra kick and ENJOY!
Recipe Details // Ingredients & Steps
3-4 cups of broth, depending on your desired thickness (mushroom, seafood, vegetable, or chicken)
1 tablespoon of neutral cooking oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 and a half tablespoons dried Korean chili flakes + extra for garnish
1 package of soft tofu, broken into bite sized pieces
Four green onions, sliced and separated into white and green portions
1 cup of kimchi, chopped - some kimchi is prepared with fish products. If you are keeping this recipe vegan, be sure to check the ingredient list.
1 pound of rice cakes, soaked and separated
Green onion for garnish
Optional: cooked protein of your choice - I would recommend egg (soft boiled or fried), chicken thighs, pork, or shrimp
Prepare all the vegetables: dice the onions and green onions, chop the kimchi into bite sized pieces.
Heat a cooking oil and add the onions, green onions, and Korean chili flakes. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
Add the kimchi and broth and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and flavors are incorporated.
Meanwhile, soak and separate the rice cakes in a bowl of water to prevent sticking.
Add soft tofu and rice cakes and simmer for approximately 10 more minutes until the rice cakes are tender and flavorful. If you are making this soup for meal prep, cook the rice cakes separately in salted water. Once cooked, drain and rinse to avoid absorbing all the broth.
If you are adding additional protein such as cooked chicken, pork, or shrimp, do so at this time as well.
Add the soup to a bowl and top with fresh green onions, extra chili flakes, and a fried or soft-boiled egg and ENJOY!