Korean cuisine is celebrated for its depth of flavor and soulful dishes, with Kimchi Jjigae standing out as a staple food in Korean households. This vegan version retains all the flavor and makes it perfect for your plant-based journey.
This Korean stew combines the punch of kimchi’s flavor with the richness of tofu and mushrooms to create a hearty meal perfect for a cold day. I’m excited to share a vegan version of this tasty dish, showcasing how traditional recipes can be adapted for a plant-based diet without losing their essence.
This recipe is from Vegan Soups and Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas.
The Charm of Kimchi Jjigae
Kimchi Jjigae is a Korean food staple known for its distinct sourness and spicy flavor from aged kimchi and Korean chili flakes.
This vegan kimchi jjigae recipe has the same core flavors by using vegan kimchi and a blend of spices, including gochujang (fermented red pepper paste) and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), to replicate the traditional dish’s incredible depth of flavor.
This vegan kimchi soup incorporates a variety of ingredients that are Korean staples, such as napa cabbage kimchi, tofu, and mushrooms.
The main ingredient, vegan kimchi, ensures the soup has the essential kimchi base without using shrimp paste or fish sauce, making it suitable for a vegan diet. Make sure to read labels carefully to make sure you are getting a vegan version!
The spicy gochugaru blended into the umami flavors of soy sauce and mushrooms enrich the broth. At the same time, the tofu—whether silken tofu for a softer texture or firm tofu for a more substantial bite—adds protein to this nourishing dish.
This recipe calls for extra firm, but you can try other tofu versions to find your favorite.
Step-by-Step Cooking Guide
To start, heat toasted sesame oil or water saute over medium heat to make it oil-free in a small Dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté sliced onions until translucent, then add minced garlic for an aromatic base.
Incorporate the kimchi and a splash of the kimchi liquid for an extra layer of flavor, and let it simmer to allow the flavors to meld.
Customizing Your Kimchi Jjigae
One of the joys of cooking is the flexibility to include fun add-ins or make substitutions based on what’s available and turn this into your personal
Enoki mushrooms, fresh shiitake, or even dried mushrooms rehydrated in boiling water can add different textures and flavors.
For those who want to add greens to your meal, bok choy or spinach can be added in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, preserving their vibrant color and tender texture.
Can I make this soup gluten-free?
Yes, this dish can easily be adapted by using tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce and ensuring your kimchi and gochujang paste is gluten-free too.
What can I use if I can’t find vegan kimchi?
Look for vegan kimchi at Asian markets, grocery stores, or online. Alternatively, making homemade kimchi is a rewarding process.
How can I make my kimchi jjigae more spicy? Adjust the heat by adding more gochujang or Korean red pepper flakes according to your taste.
Can I add noodles to this soup?
Absolutely, it’s not traditional, but you do you! A small bowl of brown rice or adding noodles directly into the soup makes it even more filling.
How long does this soup keep in the refrigerator?
Vegan kimchi jjigae can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 to 5 days.
Can this soup be frozen?
Yes, it freezes well.
Nava Atlas’ latest cookbook is full of creative, seasonal recipes, If you were inspired by this Vegan Kimchi Soup you need to check it out.
Nava’s book celebrates the diversity and deliciousness of vegan soups and stews, making it a must-have for any vegan kitchen.
More Recipes to Try
- Easy Tofu Stir-fry
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal Congee
- Vegan Gyoza
- General Tso’s Soy Curls
- Butternut Squash And Kale Lo Mein
- Broccoli With Garlic Sauce
- Date-Sweetened Teriyaki Soy Curls
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
Vegan Kimchi Soup - Tofu Jjigae
- 1 14-ounce extra-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups napa cabbage sliced
- 8 ounces mushrooms any variety, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or bottled ginger or more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru or more, to taste
- 6 cups water plus more as needed
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes fire-roasted, if available
- 4 stalks bok choy or 1 medium baby bok choy sliced
- 1 tablespoon gochujang paste more or less to taste
- 1 cup vegan kimchi mild or medium, or more if desired
- 2 scallions thinly sliced plus more (green parts) for topping
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves plus more for topping
- Cut the tofu into 6 slabs crosswise and blot well between layers of clean tea towel or paper towel (or, if you have a tofu press, use it ahead of time). Cut the slabs into dice.
- Heat the sesame oil in a soup pot or use water to saute to make oil-free. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent.
- Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add the cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, gochugaru, water, bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and tomatoes.
- Bring to a slow boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently until the cabbage and mushrooms are wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add the reserved tofu, bok choy, gochujang paste, kimchi, and scallions.
- The broth will likely be a bit crowded, so add 1 to 2 cups of water, or more as needed.
- Continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or just until everything is piping hot.
- Remove from the heat. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro. Serve at once, topping each serving with a little extra scallion and cilantro.