Never heard of it? Neither had I, but this bones-warming soup is a great cure for the winter blues [and grays]. Not only does it make for a hearty meal but kimchi is a superfood of sorts, if you’re into that kind of thing. From its spicy chili-peppers-and-garlic kick to its lacto-fermentation beginnings, it’s clear that the health properties of this dish were known centuries before Westerners got their hands on the idea of “probiotics” and started taking dietary supplements accordingly. A quick search online for “priobiotics” yields at least a dozen pills and shopping results divided by stores and brands. Stay above the hype and save your money… I’d recommend trying this dish for a boost to your body and your soul.
Christian got the idea for kimchi soup when I brought kimchi home one day on a whim. That particular stuff wasn’t nearly as spicy as I like it, and it languished in the fridge for a while somewhat uninspiring. The good news about kimchi is that it only gets funkier as it ages, in the best possibly way. Anyway, we bought more from a different grocery store and it’s been cold and grey [as grey as it ever gets in Colorado, that is]. Time to make it! We searched online and found a recipe to start us off from norecipes.com, so with that nod to internet irony and crowdsourcing, let’s begin.
This recipe is quite simple to throw together. It’s humble by design and just feels good. If you’re worried about setting your mouth on fire, well, for one thing the color isn’t necessarily indicative of heat index. But you can also add more or less chili flakes to suit your tastes. We didn’t have tofu, but traditionally tofu is used along with pork belly. Instead, we used leftover pork sliced thin so it would be extra tender. The result was fantastic. We served this over rice— pick your favorite kind and get it going as you cook this soup, and they should be ready to serve at nearly the same time!
I crafted a sweet but mildly spicy cocktail to pair with the meal, something to soothe out taste buds in between bites. Playing off the classic Gin ‘n Tonic of summer, this Win ‘ter Tonic features lemonbalm-infused Rob’s Mountain Gin No. 11, the Growing Gardens edition, with spiced pear vodka and a dash of cherry juice. The flavors complemented each other in their own right, but also played off the meal well.
Kimchi Jigae [Kimchi Soup]
- 1/3 Lb Thinly-Sliced Pork Belly
- 8 Oz Tofu, cubed
** if you only have one or the other, just use more of it! We used about 1/2 lb. sliced pork steaks
- 1/2 Onion sliced
- 1-1/2 C Kimchi
- 4 Cloves Garlic, sliced
- 1/2 C Liquid from Kimchi
- 2 C Water
- 1/2 tsp Dried or Ground Ginger
- 1 Tbsp Rice Wine
- 2 tsp Korean Chili Paste
- 2-3 tsp Miso or Soybean Paste
- 2 tsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Chili Flakes, more or less to taste
- 2 Green Onions, for garnish, bias-cut
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds, for garnish
- Heat a medium-sized soup pot and add the pork and onion, allowing the lard to render and the onions to sweat for a few minutes.
- Add the kimchi and garlic, stir together. Allow to sauté on medium heat until the mixture is fragrant [i.e. the kimchi is heated thoroughly but not burning].
- Add the kimchi liquid, water, ginger, rice wine, chili paste, miso and soy sauce. Stir well to combine.
- Bring to a low boil and taste for spices. Add chili flakes to taste, and don’t be too much of a wimp about it! Heat is the whole idea.
- If you are using tofu, add it. Allow the mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the kimchi and pork are tender. This was about the time during cooking that I realized I wanted to make rice over which to serve the soup.
- Once the soup has finished cooking, turn off the burner and place a lid over top. It will stay warm while you throw together a pot of rice and/or a cocktail and be perfect serving temperature.
- Just before serving, add the sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds over top. Enjoy!
Win ‘ter Tonic
- Combine vodka, gin and cherry juice over crushed ice in a glass
- Top off with tonic to taste. Garnish with a wedge of lemon if desired. Enjoy!