Kimchi and miso noodle soup
I make kimchi purely so that I can make this soup. It is clean-tasting and enlivening, nicely sharp with spice and the mellow vinegary punch of the kimchi. I don’t care much for kimchi on its own (John eats it by the jar), but I do think that it is an incredible ingredient to use as a flavourful base for stews, in dressings, and in wraps and sandwiches. The amount of kimchi that you use is quite dependent on how strong it is. Shop-bought ones can be potent, so taste it first and use your tastebuds as a guide, adding more if you need.
I cook with miso a lot and it happens to be really good for you too. I learned recently that if you heat it too much it loses a lot of its goodness, so now, when I can, I mix it with a little of the liquid I am adding it to, then stir it in at the end like a seasoning and don’t cook it for ages.
I have used gochujang paste here, which is a fermented chilli paste from Korea with complex flavours. It’s getting easier to find and it does add an extra edge to the soup. If you can’t get the paste, dried chilli works just fine. Do be careful to check the paste’s ingredients list, as some varieties contain ingredients I’d rather not eat!
200g Asian mushrooms (enoki, shimeji, shiitake, oyster)
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce, plus a little extra to season and serve
juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
2 tablespoons runny honey or agave nectar
250g soba noodles (I use 100 per cent buckwheat ones)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
a small thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon gochujang paste or dried chilli flakes
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
100–150g cabbage kimchi, drained
250g purple sprouting broccoli, woody ends removed and cut into thumb-length pieces
3 tablespoons miso paste (I use a brown rice one)
250g extra-firm tofu
squeeze of lemon or lime
some coriander or shiso leaves (optional)
First, put your mushrooms into a bowl with the tamari, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the honey, and put to one side to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water then toss in the sesame oil.
Heat the oil in a large soup pan over a medium to high heat. Once the mushrooms have had their marinating time, drain them but keep the marinade. Add the mushrooms to the pan in a single layer with a pinch of salt (you can do this in batches if you need to). Cook until the mushrooms are golden where they meet the pan, then toss and keep cooking until the mushrooms are deeply browned all over – this should take 5 minutes or so. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Fill and boil the kettle. Put the empty pan back on a medium heat, add the spring onions and sauté for a few minutes before adding the ginger and gochujang paste. After another minute or so, add the garlic and the drained kimchi. Sizzle until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges. Add 11⁄4 litres of water from the kettle along with the remaining tablespoon of honey and bring to the boil. Now, add the broccoli and simmer for 1 minute, or just until the broccoli becomes bright green.
Remove the soup from heat. Place the miso in a small bowl and whisk it with a splash of the broth to thin it out. Stir the thinned miso into the soup. Taste your soup; you really need to get the balance right here. If the broth tastes a bit flat, you might need more salt or miso, or a splash of soy sauce.
Just before serving, cut the tofu into little 2cm pieces and drizzle it with the reserved marinade from the mushrooms.
To serve, divide the noodles between four bowls and ladle over the soup. Top with the tofu, mushrooms and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Finish with more soy if you like, a squeeze of lemon or lime and the shiso or coriander leaves if using.
IMAGE: Issy Croker