Say Goodbye to Winter With a Big Bowl of Umami

BY Lynda Balslev TIMEMarch 14, 2022 PRINT

If you seek a wallop of flavor and a jolt of heat to propel you over winter’s finish line, make a steaming pot of umami-rich soup. This fragrant and nourishing bowl provides a welcome pick-me-up during the winter season (or any season, for that matter). 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 any 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.

So go ahead, get cozy, and make a pot of this soup. It’s time to finish the season with a bang.

Kimchi Soup With Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

  • 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

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

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 sauté 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.

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.

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

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Lynda studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.
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