So it’s springtime. Allegedly. Can’t verify that for you right now, I’m too busy scraping ice off of my windshield. Or at least I was this morning… Sheesh! This should be the time to make chilled soups and bright, minty salads dotted with neon green peas! Instead, I find myself craving warmth, spice, and honestly, detoxification, thanks to an overzealous Friday night with friends (who are totally worth celebrating- hello, ladies). So I suppose that will be my spring theme for this delectable Korean-inspired recipe: renewal!
The spicy, fragrant, good for you star of this detoxifying soup, kimchi, is a Korean side dish made with fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage. While kimchi is near and dear to my heart, all fermented and cultured foods are powerful nutritional underdogs. I’ll quote Casey Seidenberg’s Washington Post rundown of why we should all be eating fermented foods: Seidenberg, co-founder of D.C.-based nutrition education company Nourish Schools, says,
“Organic or lactic-acid fermented foods (such as dill pickles and sauerkraut) are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food, helping us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy. | Fermented foods have been shown to support the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In our antiseptic world with chlorinated water, antibiotics in our meat, our milk and our own bodies, and antibacterial everything, we could use some beneficial bacteria in our bodies. | When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be happy, and thus better equipped to wage war against disease and illness.”
What a delicious way to get the good bugs in our systems- by EATING! If kimchi’s not your style you can nosh on sauerkraut, beer (easy, tiger, easy), stinky cheese, dill pickles, yogurt, miso, sourdough bread, and kombucha to make your tummy and immune system happy and healthy. Or if you like kimchi and have five minutes, you can make this soup. Happy winterspringtime, everyone!
KIMCHI TOFU SOUP (KIMCHI JJIGAE)
Adapted from Competitive Cyclist
- 2 cups of your favorite kimchi, packed and chopped (I used two packages of Trader Joe’s napa cabbage kimchi)
- 1 package tofu, cut to medium dice
- 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 2 tsp low-sodium vegetable cooking base or 2 tsp bouillon
- 1 tbsp low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Korean chili paste or garlic chili paste, such as Huy Fong
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced and divided
- eggs, optional
Chop your kimchi into bite-sized pieces. You may eat as much as you want as you chop. Watch your fingers.
Dice the tofu block. It’s really fun.
Mix the kimchi and vinegar and add to a large stockpot. Add the water, cooking base, tamari or soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and half the scallions. Stir this together, then gently stir in the tofu blocks and bring the soup to a boil. If you’d like, crack a few eggs into the boiling soup and cook until the whites are opaque. If not, serve and top bowls with remaining fresh scallions, passing sesame oil around. So very tasty and so, so good for you.