Kimchi soup: say hello to a flavorful, spicy bowl that screams umami

If a bowl of soup can scream umami, this is it. It’s spicy, smoky and intoxicatingly aromatic, thanks to its roster of ingredients.

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Shiitake mushrooms complete an umami bonanza in this kimchi soup, delivering rich flavor and nutrients to this heady and nourishing dish.

Shiitake mushrooms complete an umami bonanza in this kimchi soup, delivering rich flavor and nutrients to this heady and nourishing dish.

Lynda Balslev/Taste/Food

If you seek a wallop of flavor and a jolt of heat, make a steaming pot of umami-rich soup. This fragrant and nourishing bowl provides a welcome pick-me-up any time of year. Add to that a roster of healthy ingredients, and you have the recipe for a satisfying and fortifying one-pot meal.

This recipe is inspired by Korean kimchi jjigae, or kimchi soup. If a bowl of soup can scream umami, this is it. It’s spicy, smoky and intoxicatingly aromatic, thanks to its roster of ingredients.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented vegetable condiment (good for your digestion) and is usually made with cabbage, ginger and garlic. It adds a potent and fiery bite to the gochujang-laced broth.

Gochujang is a miso-like fermented soybean and hot pepper paste thickened with glutinous rice, which adds murky, smoky sweetness and an extra kick of heat to the bowl.

Shiitake mushrooms complete the umami bonanza, delivering rich flavor and nutrients to this heady and nourishing soup.

Kimchi Soup With Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Yield: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, divided
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts divided and sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup kimchi juice
  • 4 cups chicken, mushroom or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (fermented hot pepper paste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 ounces spinach, stems removed
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and lightly season with salt. Saute until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pot. Add the white scallions and carrot and saute until the carrot brightens in color and is crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the kimchi and kimchi juice and cook for about 1 minute, stirring up any brown bits in the pot. Add the stock, soy sauce, gochujang and sugar.

3. Bring the soup to a low boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and continue to simmer until the greens wilt, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Return the mushrooms to the soup, gently stir in the tofu, and simmer until just heated through.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the green scallions. Serve warm.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.

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