Kimchi Soup Recipe

Are you craving a bowl of spicy, tangy, and comforting soup? Look no further than the delicious and easy-to-make Kimchi Soup, also known as Kimchi Jjigae. This traditional Korean dish is a favorite among soup lovers and will warm you up on chilly winter days. Whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegetarian, there’s a Kimchi Soup recipe for everyone.

Kimchi Soup Recipe

Key Takeaways:

  • Kimchi Soup, also known as Kimchi Jjigae, is a spicy and tangy Korean soup.
  • It is a comforting and versatile dish that can be customized to suit different dietary preferences.
  • A well-fermented kimchi is the key ingredient for an authentic and flavorful soup.
  • Kimchi Soup can be made with pork, beef, seafood, or as a vegetarian option.
  • Serve Kimchi Soup with steamed rice and side dishes for a complete and satisfying meal.

The History of Kimchi Soup

Kimchi soup, a staple in Korean cuisine, has a fascinating history that dates back centuries. Originally created as a way to preserve vegetables during the cold winter months, kimchi soup has become a beloved dish enjoyed year-round.

“The tradition of making kimchi soup stems from the practice of kimjang, a community event where families and neighbors come together to prepare large quantities of kimchi.”

This communal event, kimjang, takes place in late November when napa cabbage is in season, making it the perfect time to make fresh and affordable kimchi. During kimjang, the entire process of making kimchi, from harvesting the vegetables to fermenting them, is carried out in a collaborative spirit.

Winter kimchi, made during kimjang, is robust and flavorful, thanks to the colder temperatures that aid in fermentation. The kimchi is then stored in traditional onggi crocks, ensuring its freshness and nutritional value throughout the winter months.

While modern advancements have made fresh vegetables available year-round, many Koreans still follow the tradition of making kimchi during the winter, as it continues to be a cherished cultural practice.

The Significance of Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Napa cabbage kimchi, known as baechu kimchi, is the most popular type of kimchi used in kimchi soup. Its crisp texture and mild flavor create a perfect balance with the spicy and savory elements of the soup. The napa cabbage leaves are soaked in a brine, then coated with a mixture of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings before being fermented.

The fermentation process not only enhances the flavors but also creates beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut microbiome. The resulting kimchi is not only delicious but also nutritious, making it a key ingredient in the flavorful kimchi soup.

In summary, the history of kimchi soup is rooted in the winter preservation of vegetables and the community-driven event of kimjang. Today, kimchi soup continues to be a beloved dish that showcases the cultural significance of kimchi in Korean cuisine.

Ingredients for Kimchi Soup

To make a delicious kimchi soup, you will need a few key ingredients. The main ingredient is kimchi, which should be well-fermented for the best flavor. Other ingredients include pork (such as pork shoulder or pork belly), tofu, hot pepper paste, sugar, green onions, and water. These ingredients come together to create a flavorful and hearty soup that is both spicy and tangy.

Key Ingredients for Kimchi Soup

Ingredient Quantity
Kimchi 2 cups
Pork (shoulder or belly) 8 ounces
Tofu 12 ounces
Hot Pepper Paste 2 tablespoons
Sugar 1 tablespoon
Green Onions 2 stalks
Water 4 cups

In addition to these ingredients, you can also add other vegetables or protein of your choice to customize the soup to your liking. The combination of kimchi, pork, tofu, and other ingredients creates a well-balanced flavor profile that is sure to satisfy your cravings for a hot and savory dish.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Kimchi Soup

Making kimchi soup is relatively easy and can be done in a few simple steps. Follow this recipe to create a delicious bowl of kimchi soup:

  1. Gather all the necessary ingredients, including:
  • 2 cups of well-fermented kimchi
  • 8 ounces of pork (pork shoulder or pork belly), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 block of tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cups of water
  • Chop the kimchi and green onions.
  • Marinate the pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and a pinch of black pepper.
  • In a pot, combine the kimchi, pork, hot pepper paste, sugar, and water.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Add the tofu and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions.
  • Serve the kimchi soup hot with a side of steamed rice.
  • Tips:

    – Use well-fermented kimchi for optimal flavor.

    – Adjust the amount of hot pepper paste and sugar according to your spice preference.

    – Let the soup simmer for enough time to allow the flavors to meld together.

    – Taste the soup as you cook and adjust the seasonings as needed.

    – Feel free to customize the recipe by adding other ingredients like mushrooms or seafood.

    Variations of Kimchi Soup

    While the traditional kimchi soup is made with pork, there are various delicious variations available to suit different dietary preferences. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, seafood lover, or prefer beef, you can customize the kimchi soup recipe to your liking.

    Vegetarian Kimchi Soup

    For a vegetarian option, simply omit the pork and replace it with a variety of mushrooms and vegetables. This adds depth of flavor and a satisfying texture to the soup. Some popular vegetables to include in vegetarian kimchi soup are sliced carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini. The combination of kimchi and vegetables creates a flavorful and filling vegetarian dish.

    Vegan Kimchi Soup

    Vegans can enjoy a flavorful kimchi soup by removing the pork and ensuring that the kimchi used is vegan-friendly, without any fish sauce or shrimp paste. Add extra vegetables and mushrooms for a hearty and nutritious vegan kimchi soup. Tofu is also a great addition, providing a good source of protein and a creamy texture to the soup.

    Seafood Kimchi Soup

    Seafood enthusiasts can elevate their kimchi soup by incorporating various seafood options. Consider adding shrimp, clams, or mussels to the soup for a delightful seafood twist. The briny flavors from the seafood complement the tangy and spicy kimchi, creating a harmonious taste experience. Seafood kimchi soup is an excellent choice for those who enjoy a combination of rich flavors from the ocean and the distinctive taste of kimchi.

    Beef Kimchi Soup

    For a meat alternative, you can substitute pork with beef to create a savory and hearty beef kimchi soup. Thinly sliced beef, such as ribeye or brisket, adds richness and flavor to the soup. The meat marinates in the kimchi broth, absorbing all the delicious flavors as it cooks. Beef kimchi soup is a great choice for meat lovers who want to experience the robust taste of beef paired with the tanginess of kimchi.

    These variations of kimchi soup provide a wide range of options for you to explore, depending on your dietary preferences and taste preferences. Whether you choose vegetarian, vegan, seafood, or beef, each version offers its unique and delicious combination of flavors. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and find the variation that satisfies your cravings.

    Health Benefits of Kimchi Soup

    Kimchi soup is not only a flavorful dish that satisfies your taste buds but also offers numerous health benefits. This traditional Korean soup combines the nutritional powerhouse of kimchi with other ingredients to create a delicious and nutritious meal option.

    Kimchi: Kimchi, the star ingredient of this soup, undergoes a fermentation process that enhances its nutritional value. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, kimchi provides a range of health benefits.

    “Kimchi is packed with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial bacteria, thanks to the fermentation process.”

    Probiotics: The fermentation process of kimchi introduces beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, which promote a healthy gut microbiome. These probiotics aid in digestion, improve gut health, and boost the body’s immune system.

    “Probiotics in kimchi soup promote a healthy gut microbiome and aid in digestion.”

    Low in Calories and Fat: Kimchi soup is a low-calorie and low-fat dish, making it an excellent choice for individuals looking to maintain a healthy diet or manage their weight. It provides a satisfying meal option without excessive calories or unhealthy fats.

    “Kimchi soup is low in calories and fat, making it a great choice for a healthy diet.”

    Nutrient-Rich Ingredients: Apart from kimchi, kimchi soup typically includes other nutritious ingredients such as pork, tofu, and vegetables. These ingredients offer essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to a well-balanced meal.

    “The combination of kimchi, pork, tofu, and other ingredients in the soup provides a balanced and nutrient-rich meal.”

    With its flavorful taste and array of health benefits, kimchi soup is a fantastic addition to your diet. By incorporating this nutritious soup into your meal plan, you can enjoy a delicious dish while reaping the rewards of improved gut health, increased nutrient intake, and overall well-being.

    Serving Suggestions for Kimchi Soup

    Kimchi soup is a delightful dish that brings together bold and tangy flavors. To enhance your kimchi soup experience, consider the following serving suggestions:

    Rice for a Perfect Pairing

    Serve your kimchi soup with a side of steamed rice. The plainness of the rice complements the spicy and tangy flavors of the soup, creating a harmonious balance. Each spoonful of kimchi soup combined with a bite of rice creates a satisfying and complete meal.

    Side Dishes for Added Variety

    Add variety and depth to your kimchi soup meal by pairing it with a selection of side dishes, known as banchan in Korean cuisine. Here are a few side dishes that go well with kimchi soup:

    • Korean pickles: These tangy and crunchy pickled vegetables enhance the overall flavor profile of the meal.
    • Steamed vegetables: Choose your favorite vegetables and steam them until tender-crisp. The mildness of steamed vegetables complements the boldness of the kimchi soup.

    Feel free to experiment with different side dishes to find the perfect combination that suits your taste buds. The variety of flavors and textures will elevate your kimchi soup experience.

    Creating a Balanced Meal

    When serving kimchi soup, remember to strike a balance in your meal. Aim for a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. The rice provides the necessary carbohydrates, while the kimchi soup itself offers protein from ingredients like pork and tofu. The addition of side dishes adds more vegetables and flavors to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

    Enjoy the fusion of flavors, textures, and colors as you dive into a bowl of kimchi soup accompanied by rice and side dishes. It’s not just a meal; it’s an experience!

    Tips for Making the Perfect Kimchi Soup

    To ensure the best possible kimchi soup, follow these tips:

    1. Use well-fermented kimchi for optimal flavor. The fermentation process gives kimchi its distinct tanginess and depth of flavor. The longer the kimchi has fermented, the more pronounced the flavors will be in the soup.
    2. Adjust the amount of hot pepper paste and sugar according to your spice preference. Kimchi soup is known for its spicy kick. Add more hot pepper paste if you like it extra spicy, or reduce the amount for a milder flavor. The sugar helps balance the heat and adds a touch of sweetness.
    3. Let the soup simmer for enough time to allow the flavors to meld together. Simmering the soup allows the ingredients to infuse their flavors into the broth, creating a harmonious blend of spicy, tangy, and savory tastes.
    4. Taste the soup as you cook and adjust the seasonings as needed. Every batch of kimchi is unique, so it’s important to taste the soup and adjust the seasonings accordingly. If it needs more saltiness, try adding a splash of soy sauce. If it lacks depth, a dash of fish sauce can do wonders.
    5. Feel free to customize the recipe by adding other ingredients like mushrooms or seafood. Kimchi soup is versatile, and you can experiment with different ingredients to suit your taste. Consider adding sliced mushrooms for an earthy flavor or seafood like shrimp or clams for a delightful twist.

    “The key to making an exceptional kimchi soup lies in the balance of flavors. Don’t be afraid to play around with the ingredients and make the recipe your own. Enjoy the process and savor the delicious result of your homemade kimchi soup!”

    Recommended Kimchi Soup Cooking Time

    Letting the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes allows the flavors to meld together and intensify. However, if you prefer a quick and easy version, you can cook it for as little as 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the longer you simmer the soup, the more developed the flavors will be.

    Cooking Time Flavor Intensity
    15 minutes Mild
    30 minutes Medium
    45 minutes or more Robust

    Storing and Reheating Kimchi Soup

    If you have leftovers of this flavorful Korean dish, it’s essential to know how to store them properly to maintain their taste and quality. Follow these guidelines for storing and reheating kimchi soup:

    Storing Kimchi Soup

    To store kimchi soup, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it promptly. The refrigerator’s cool temperature will help preserve the soup and keep it fresh for later enjoyment. Follow these steps:

    1. Cool the soup: Allow the kimchi soup to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. This helps prevent condensation and maintains the soup’s texture.
    2. Transfer to an airtight container: Pour the kimchi soup into a clean, airtight container. Ensure that the container is appropriately sized to accommodate the soup’s volume.
    3. Label and date the container: Use a marker or label to indicate the contents and the date when the soup was prepared. This way, you can easily track its freshness and consume it within the recommended timeframe.
    4. Store in the refrigerator: Place the container in the refrigerator and ensure it is tightly sealed. Refrigerate the kimchi soup for up to 3-4 days.

    Properly stored kimchi soup should remain safe to consume within this timeframe. However, always use your best judgment and discard the soup if it exhibits signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or a noticeable change in texture.

    Reheating Kimchi Soup

    When it comes to reheating kimchi soup, gentle heating is best to retain the flavors and textures of the ingredients. Here’s how you can reheat kimchi soup:

    1. Thaw frozen soup (if applicable): If you have frozen kimchi soup, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Allow it to thaw overnight before reheating.
    2. Gently heat the soup: Pour the desired amount of kimchi soup into a pot and heat it over low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even heat distribution.
    3. Avoid boiling: Be cautious not to let the soup come to a boil, as excessive heat can alter the taste and texture. Heating the soup over low heat will help maintain its original qualities.
    4. Check for desired temperature: As the soup warms, check the temperature by tasting a small portion. Once it reaches your desired level of warmth, remove it from the heat source.

    Remember to handle the pot and soup with caution, as they may be hot. Use oven mitts or pot holders to protect your hands while pouring and serving the soup.

    Now that you know how to store and reheat kimchi soup, you can confidently enjoy this delicious dish over multiple servings, ensuring its flavors are preserved and ready to be savored.

    Where to Find Kimchi and Korean Ingredients

    If you don’t have access to Korean grocery stores in your area, you can still find kimchi and other Korean ingredients online. Many online Korean food stores offer a wide selection of kimchi brands and other Korean products that can be delivered to your doorstep. Look for stores that have positive reviews and offer high-quality products. Additionally, some mainstream grocery stores may carry kimchi in their international or specialty food sections. Explore different options to find a reliable source for your kimchi and other Korean ingredient needs.

    Online Korean Food Stores

    If you are unable to find a Korean grocery store near you, you can conveniently shop for kimchi and other Korean ingredients online. There are many reputable online Korean food stores that offer a diverse range of products for you to choose from. These stores provide a convenient solution for those who don’t have access to physical Korean grocery stores in their area.

    Online Korean Food Store Website
    Maangchi’s Market

    These online Korean food stores offer a wide selection of kimchi brands, as well as other Korean food products and ingredients. You can browse through their websites, read reviews, and choose the products that best suit your preferences. From traditional kimchi to specialty Korean sauces and spices, you can find everything you need to create authentic Korean dishes at home.

    Mainstream Grocery Stores

    In addition to online options, you may be able to find kimchi and other Korean ingredients in some mainstream grocery stores. Many larger supermarkets have dedicated international or specialty food sections where you can find a variety of ethnic products, including Korean ingredients. Next time you visit your local grocery store, take a look in these sections to see if they carry kimchi or other Korean food items.

    It’s worth noting that the selection may be more limited compared to Korean grocery stores or online Korean food stores. Nevertheless, you might find some popular brands of kimchi or basic Korean ingredients that will allow you to enjoy the flavors of Korean cuisine.

    Whether you choose to shop online or explore mainstream grocery stores, finding kimchi and other Korean ingredients is easier than ever. With these options, you can enjoy the authentic taste of Korean cuisine in your own kitchen.


    Kimchi soup is a versatile and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed by anyone. This delicious Korean recipe brings together the bold flavors of well-fermented kimchi, pork (or other proteins), tofu, and a combination of spices to create a truly satisfying and comforting meal. Whether you prefer the traditional pork-based version or want to explore vegetarian, vegan, seafood, or beef variations, kimchi soup offers a wide range of options to suit different tastes and dietary preferences.

    By following a simple recipe and using high-quality ingredients, you can easily make a homemade kimchi soup that is both delicious and nutritious. The fermentation process of kimchi not only enhances its flavors but also adds beneficial bacteria, promoting a healthy gut microbiome and aiding in digestion. Additionally, kimchi soup is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, making it a great choice for those looking to maintain a healthy diet.

    When serving your kimchi soup, don’t forget to pair it with a bowl of steamed rice. The combination of the spicy and tangy soup with the plain rice creates a perfect balance of flavors. You can also complement the meal with a variety of side dishes, such as Korean pickles or steamed vegetables, to add variety and enhance the overall dining experience.

    In conclusion, kimchi soup is not only a delicious and comforting dish but also a gateway to Korean culinary culture. With its rich history, health benefits, and endless variations, kimchi soup is a must-try for all food enthusiasts. So gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and enjoy the unique blend of flavors that kimchi soup has to offer!


    What is kimchi soup?

    Kimchi soup, also known as kimchi jjigae, is a spicy and tangy Korean dish made with well-fermented kimchi, pork (or other protein), and tofu. It is a comforting and flavorful soup that is often enjoyed with rice and other side dishes.

    How is kimchi soup traditionally made?

    Kimchi soup is traditionally made by combining well-fermented kimchi with pork, tofu, hot pepper paste, sugar, green onions, and water. The ingredients are simmered together to create a flavorful and hearty soup.

    Can I make vegetarian kimchi soup?

    Absolutely! For a vegetarian version of kimchi soup, you can omit the pork and replace it with mushrooms or other vegetables for added flavor and texture.

    How long does it take to make kimchi soup?

    The cooking time for kimchi soup is relatively quick. After preparing the ingredients, it takes about 30 minutes to simmer the soup and an additional 10 minutes to add the tofu and finish cooking.

    Are there variations of kimchi soup?

    Yes, there are various variations of kimchi soup to suit different dietary preferences. Some popular variations include vegetarian, vegan, seafood, and beef kimchi soups.

    What are the health benefits of kimchi soup?

    Kimchi soup offers several health benefits. Kimchi, being a fermented food, contains beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut microbiome and aid in digestion. It is also low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, making it a nutritious choice.

    What can I serve with kimchi soup?

    Kimchi soup is traditionally served with a bowl of steamed rice. You can also enjoy it with Korean pickles (banchan) or steamed vegetables as side dishes.

    Any tips for making the perfect kimchi soup?

    To ensure the best kimchi soup, use well-fermented kimchi for optimal flavor. Adjust the spice level by varying the amount of hot pepper paste and sugar. Let the soup simmer to allow the flavors to meld together, and taste as you cook to adjust the seasonings as needed.

    How do I store and reheat kimchi soup?

    You can store kimchi soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Gently reheat it over low heat to prevent the soup from becoming too hot. Kimchi soup can also be frozen, but note that the texture of the tofu may change slightly upon thawing.

    Where can I find kimchi and Korean ingredients?

    If you don’t have access to Korean grocery stores, you can find kimchi and other Korean ingredients online. Many online Korean food stores offer a wide selection of products that can be delivered to your doorstep. Some mainstream grocery stores may also carry kimchi in their international or specialty food sections.

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