This vegan kimchi soup is an easy version of Korean tofu stew (Sundubu jjigae), and is made with kimchi, tofu and potatoes. Make it in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop!
I've been on a mission lately.
A mission to recreate my favorite restaurant meals at home, because 2020 (and so far, 2021) have made it really difficult to eat out!
As I was testing different versions of the soup, my friend Marie-Gael sent me lots of awesome tips for a plant-based kimchi and tofu soup. And her ideas were fantastic!
This quick and easy vegan kimchi soup is made with tofu and potatoes, and can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stovetop.
The photos (and directions in this post) will focus on the Instant Pot version of the recipe, but check the second half of the recipe for the stovetop directions.
Is This Soup Spicy?
If you follow the directions exactly as written, this soup is somewhat spicy.
For less spice, you can omit the gochugaru (or just use a little bit less!).
What Ingredients Might Be Hard to Find?
The ingredients that might be hard to find are gochujang (red pepper and rice paste) and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes).
Depending on where you shop, you might be able to find most (or all) of the above ingredients at your local grocery store. I've seen them all at Kroger but not at Walmart.
Where Can I Find Kimchi?
The best kimchi will be sold refrigerated.
Check the refrigerated produce section, or if your grocery store has a health food or fermented foods area, check in the refrigerators there.
Should I Use Sesame Oil?
It's totally up to you.
Most traditional Korean tofu and kimchi soups seem to use sesame oil, but I tried versions with sesame oil and versions with olive oil and couldn't tell the difference.
Sesame oil tends to lose most of its flavor when heated, and in this soup it's added at the beginning of the recipe. Personally, I opt for olive oil (or even avocado oil), but use whichever you prefer.
What's the Best Broth for Vegan Kimchi Soup?
To make miso broth, simply stir white miso paste into water. The recipe card notes have the miso to water ratio that I use.
How to Make Vegan Kimchi Soup
Use the sauté feature to cook the potatoes and kimchi with the spices for just a minute or two, until the spices become really fragrant.
Slowly pour in the broth, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot as you pour.
Scraping will help get any bits of food off the bottom of the pot and prevent the burn warning.
Next, pressure cook the soup for two minutes. Check the recipe card for exact directions on which buttons to push.
Pressure cooking will soften the potatoes and help make the broth taste like it's been simmering on the stovetop for a long time.
Carefully quick-release the pressure.
Add diced silken tofu to the soup, and then simmer the soup for another minute or two to warm the tofu.
It's almost ready!
Serve the kimchi soup along with rice and diced green onion. We usually serve our soup with this Instant Pot jasmine rice.
I like to serve this spicy soup in extra-large bowls (like these ramen bowls) on a chilly winter day.
Vegan Kimchi Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
- 1 large potato or sweet potato (~12 ounces), cubed into ½" pieces peeling potato is optional
- ⅓ cup kimchi
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) Or substitute 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (optional, for more spice)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 4 cups broth or stock (vegetable or miso) See Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup liquid from kimchi
- 1 package silken tofu (16 ounces), diced into 1" squares Or use extra silken Korean tofu
- 1 green onion (scallion), green tops only, diced
- sushi rice or jasmine rice, to serve (optional)
- Add oil to the Instant Pot. Press the sauté button. Press the adjustable temperature setting until it reads normal.Add diced potato, kimchi, gochugaru, gochujang (if using), garlic, ginger and salt to the pot. Stir together and cook 1-2 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.
- Slowly pour in the broth and the kimchi liquid. As you pour, scrape up any bits of vegetable stuck to the bottom of the pot (to prevent the burn warning).
- Press the cancel button. Set Instant Pot to pressure cook/manual, high pressure. Set the cook time for 2 minutes.The Instant Pot will take about 8-10 minutes to come to pressure, depending on how hot the soup is, and then will start counting down the cook time. (If the broth was hot when you added it, the Instant Pot will seal quickly.) The Instant Pot will beep to let you know the cook time has finished.Carefully quick-release the remaining pressure by using the handle of a long spoon (I use a wooden spoon) to turn the steam valve to venting.
- Take the lid off the Instant Pot. Press the cancel button to end the cook cycle.Press the sauté button. Leave the adjustable temperature setting at normal. Optionally, mash the tofu cubes with a fork.Add the tofu, and simmer about 2 minutes, or until the tofu is warm.
- Top soup with diced green onion and serve immediately along with rice.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot.Add diced potatoes, kimchi, gochugaru, gochujang (if using), garlic, and ginger to the pot. Stir together and cook 1-2 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.Add the kimchi liquid and broth. Bring soup to a simmer, and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add the tofu, and simmer about 2 minutes, or until the tofu is warm.Top soup with diced green onion and serve immediately along with rice.
- Miso Broth: Use white miso paste. Add one tablespoon of miso paste to 4 cups of simmering water and continue simmering until dissolved. If desired, skim any residue off the top of the broth.
- Vegetable Broth: We love using both homemade vegetable broth and homemade mushroom broth.
- Note that if using unseasoned vegetable stock, you may need to add salt to the recipe.