A hearty bowl of kimchi soup with sides of bean-thread noodles and more kimchi (photos #1 and #2 © The Vegan Atlas).
 Kimchi soup ingredients.
 Gochugaru, Korean red chile that adds a fruity, sweet, and smokey flavor to dishes (photo © Gochujar).
 Gochugang paste, very spicy and deeply flavored (photo © Gochujar).
 Bean thread noodles are also called cellophane or glass noodles (photo © Webstaurant Store).
 The photos that follow show kimchi in various presentations (photo © Umami Information Center).
 As a side dish with any meal (photo © Nakano Rice Vinegar).
 Two presentations (photos #8 and #9 via Wikipedia | CC-BY-SA-2.0).
 Two more presentations.
National Kimchi Day is November 22nd, and we’d like to share a delicious kimchi soup recipe from The Vegan Atlas.
If you’re not familiar with kimchi (KIM-chee), it’s a staple Korean condiment* made from fermented vegetables (as are pickles and sauerkraut).
Think of kimchi as a spicier, chunkier, and more complex form of sauerkraut. It can be vegan, or have some fish ingredients, like fermented anchovies (did you know that there are fermented anchovies in Worcestershire sauce?).
“Even with all the spices and bold flavors,” says Nava Atlas, author of The Vegan Atlas, “kimchi soup somehow qualifies as comfort food! It’s a classic in Korean cuisine, and this recipe is ready to eat quickly.” Prep time is 15 minutes, and cook time is 15 minutes.
As with so many recipes, no two are alike. The cook has a wide range to tailor the recipe.
But the star is always kimchi, the fermented condiment based most often on cabbage (it can include other vegetables).
If you’re interested in delicious vegan recipes, head to TheVeganAtlas.com and sign up!
RECIPE: KIMCHI SOUP
The ingredient list might look a bit long, but there’s surprisingly little prep. The ingredients cook up quickly.
Brimming with Korean seasonings and briny kimchi, the broth becomes flavorful in no time. Optional ingredients include rice, rice noodles, or sweet potato, which all act as foils to the other vigorous and spicy flavors.
While you may hesitate to buy gochugaru, you can use the rest of it as you would another red chile spice. Here’s more about it. You can substitute Aleppo pepper or Kashmiri (Indian) chile powder.
It’s the same with gochujang, “the next sriracha.” Here’s more about it.
14-ounce tub extra-firm tofu (see Note)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or neutral vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups green cabbage, preferably napa, sliced
6 to 8 ounces mushrooms, any variety, stemmed and sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger (add more to taste)
1 teaspoon gochugaru (add more to taste<)
6 cups water, plus more as needed
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, if available)
4 stalks bok choy or 1 medium baby bok choy, sliced
1 tablespoon gochujang paste, more or less to taste
1 cup kimchi, mild or medium, or more if desired
2 scallions, thinly sliced plus more (green parts) for topping
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for topping
Cooked rice (about 1-1/2 cups)
Bean-thread noodles, a.k.a. cellophane or glass noodles (about 4 ounces), cooked and cut into shorter lengths
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, and cooked
1. CUT the tofu into 6 slabs crosswise and blot well between layers of a clean tea towel or paper towel (or, if you have a tofu press, use it ahead of time). Cut the slabs into dice.
2. HEAT the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
3. ADD the cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, gochugaru, water, bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently until the cabbage and mushrooms are wilted, about 5 minutes.
4. ADD the reserved tofu, bok choy, gochujang paste, kimchi, and scallions. The broth will likely be a bit crowded, so add 1 to 2 cups of water, or more as needed. Continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or just until everything is piping hot. Don’t overcook!
5. REMOVE from the heat. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro. Serve at once, garnishing each serving with some extra scallion and cilantro.
For the optional ingredients:
If using rice, place a little in each bowl before ladling in the soup.
If using bean-thread noodles or sweet potato, arrange them in small mounds on top of the soup after ladling them into each bowl, before adding the garnishes. Or, you can simply stir them into the soup.
If you do any of it in a different order, it doesn’t matter; it will all taste good no matter how you arrange it!
Deviled Eggs With Kimchi
Kimchi Fried Rice
Kimchi Hot Dogs
Napa Cabbage Kimchi
Poutine With Kimchi Topping
Ramen Soup With Kimchi
Taco & Wing Bar With Kimchi
Teriyaki Meatball Hero With Kimchi
Waffles With Kimchi
MORE KIMCHI RECIPES
THE HISTORY OF KIMCHI
Kimchi has been made for three thousand years in Korea. It was, and is, made by fermenting vegetables. It began as a way to ferment and store vegetables during the cold winter when many Koreans died of starvation.
It quickly became a stape food for year-round consumption, an ubiquitous side dish on every table every day [source].
The dish is an integral part of every meal—so much so that when South Korea launched its first astronaut to space in 2008, it sent kimchi with her [source].
Today, kimchi is pungent and fiery, seasoned with red chile flakes or whole chiles. But historical versions were not spicy.
Early records of kimchi do not mention garlic or chile peppers. In fact, hot chiles, now a standard ingredient in kimchi, are a New World crop. They were unknown in Korea until the early 17th century, when they were introduced to East Asia by Portuguese traders.
The first mention of chiles in Korea is found in an encyclopedia published in 1614 [source] and kimchi with chili peppers was described in a book on farm management.
However, it was not until the 19th century that the use of chile peppers in kimchi was widespread. The recipes from early 19th century closely resemble today’s hot and spicy kimchi [source].
A 1766 book describes kimchi varieties made with different ingredients, including chonggak-kimchi (made with chonggak radish), oi-sobagi (made with cucumber), seokbak-ji (made with jogi-jeot, salted seafood), and dongchimi (Korean radish, napa cabbage, scallions, pickled green chile, ginger, Korean pear and watery brine).
Napa cabbage, the key ingredient in most popular modern kimchi, was introduced to Korea from China only at the end of 19th century [source].
The basic modern recipe came together: a powerful punch of napa cabbage, scallion (green onion), fish sauce, red pepper flakes, rice flour, salt, ginger, radish, carrot, and garlic, fermented kimchi in onggi (a clay pot) is loved by many around the world [source].
Considered the national dish of Korea, kimchi is eaten as a side dish as well as incorporated into recipes.
Given regional preferences and ingredients, there are more than 200 types of kimchi in Korea [source].
“Kimchi season” spans November and December, the time when kimjang (kimchi curing) takes place in preparation for winter.
During this time, family members and neighbors gather in each other’s kitchens to cook together, trade recipes, and share stories. Kimjang is meant to create moments of joy and encourage living in harmony with nature.
During kimjang, cabbage is pickled by cutting it into smaller pieces, soaking it in brine overnight, and adding salt.
Next, yangnyum (radish coated in chili powder) is mixed with ingredients such as scallions (green onions), dropwort, mustard leaves, ginger, garlic, and fermented shrimp or anchovies.
Finally, the pickled cabbage is stuffed or mixed with the yangnyum and stored away to ferment until eating [source].
The tradition of making and sharing kimchi is listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco that “reaffirms Korean identity” [source].”
Kimchi is stored in large clay pots or jars. Storing them in the family refrigerator meant there was little space for anything else.
Hence, many Korean households even have a separate kimchi refrigerator [source].
Beyond Korea, kimchi is a terrific fusion food, pairing well with everything from eggs to sandwiches to meat to tacos.
If you like pungent, spicy foods, take a taste. Many supermarkets carry kimchi in the refrigerated foods section. Mother-In-Law’s Kimchi is a favorite of ours.
> More kimchi history.
> How kimchi is made.