The best part of this recipe is that it is essentially just based on condiments and pantry staples I always seem to have around. Mark Bittman is so good at these impossibly simple recipes that have way more flavor than they should. I pulled this one for kimchi soup with tofu and spinach from his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian while looking for comforting soup. I'm so glad I found this.
About the only ingredient I don't normally have around is the tofu, which I've been thinking about changing. My aversion to tofu is the usual diatribe that tofu doesn't have much flavor. But it does a pretty amazing job of sucking up the flavor of whatever it is dropped into. And that's no different here—these half-inch cubes of tofu become little hunks of spice and heat. I was quite taken with them.
I added spinach because I had some in the fridge, and it lent the soup a little more body. It's not completely necessary, but when you're going for a vegetarian soup you might as well go all out and make it really healthy.
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped
- 8 ounces tofu, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper paste (go chu jang)
- 6 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup short grain white rice
- Couple handfuls of spinach
- Black pepper
Pour 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil into a pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the scallions and cook for about a minute. Then dump in the kimchi, tofu, and red pepper paste. Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so.
Pour in the water or stock, vinegar, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the rice, stir, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. With about 10 minutes in, add the spinach. At the last second, add the last tablespoon of sesame oil and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper.