Thinly sliced squash, meaty shiitakes, and a bunch of kale join the usual suspects of kimchi and soft tofu in this comforting stew.
I don't know about you, but kimchi stew (jjigae) reminds me of winter. And not just any old chilly evening, but the kind of day smack dab in the dead of February, when there's a foot of snow on the ground and frost on the windows. That's when a big bowl of spicy broth and meaty pork sounds like heaven, right? So what am I doing cooking up a batch in the middle of summer? Turns out vegetables are equally at home in this dish, and right now I have a lot of them. Plus, haven't you heard that adage that you should eat a hot soup on a hot day?
Honestly, my biggest issue was trying to figure out just how many different kinds of vegetables I could add. Eventually, I settled on thinly sliced squash, meaty shiitakes, and a bunch of kale. They joined the usual suspects of kimchi and soft tofu for a soup that's every bit as warming and comforting as you'd expect, but also with a fresh edge that feels right on hot day.
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 scallions, ends trimmed, green and white parts thinly sliced and kept separate
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1/2 pound squash, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 pound shiitakes mushrooms, ends removed, caps sliced
- 1 bunch of kale, ends trimmed, leaves roughly chopped
- 2 cups kimchi, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup kimchi liquid
- 4 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 2 tablespoons doenjang (Korean miso paste), or Japanese white miso paste
- 1 pound soft tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons kochukaru (Korean dried chili flakes), more or less to taste (optional)
Warm sesame oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add squash and shiitakes, stir well, and cook until squash starts to soften, 3 to 5 minutes minutes. Add chopped kale and cook, stirring often, until leaves turn bright green and wilt slightly, about 2 minutes.
Stir in kimchi, kimchi liquid, stock, water, soy sauce, mirin, gochujang, and doenjang. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to a strong simmer. Stir in soft tofu and kochukaru (if using), and cook until kale is tender and soup has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and chili flakes if desired.
Serve soup immediately, sprinkled with scallion greens.