Korean-Inspired Beef and Tofu Soup with rice / kimchi
The elements in this Korean-inspired soup all come together for a meal that is colorful and totally unique. Tangy and umami flavors balance the spice.
Smarts: Gochujang is spicy but also adds sweetness and smokiness that are authentically Korean. Be sure to taste the soup as it simmers and add more Gochujang if you're okay with the heat.
- Rice, uncooked white or brown - 3/4 cup
- Tofu, extra-firm - 16 oz, 1/2” / 1.3 cm thick cubes (vacuum-packed preferable)
- Onions, medium - 1, diced
- Zucchini - 12 oz, cubed
- Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
- Kimchi - 1/2 cup, chopped (plus extra for serving)
- Green onions - 2 stalks, chopped, green and white parts combined
- Mushrooms, shiitake - 8 oz, sliced (look for pre-sliced)
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Beef, ground - 8 oz
- Gochujang - 1 to 3 tsp (plus extra for serving)
- Stock, any type - 4 cups
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 2 Tbsp
- Mirin - 1 Tbsp
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp
- Rice - (Skip if made ahead for Tuesday.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Tofu - If tofu is packaged in water, press out liquid first, like in this video. Then slice into 1/2” / 1.3 cm thick cubes. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Onions / Zucchini / Garlic / Kimchi - Prep as directed. Combine onions and zucchini in one container. Combine garlic and kimchi in another container. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Green onions / Mushrooms - Prep as directed. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Heat a wok or Dutch oven with oil over medium heat. Add beef and saute, breaking it apart, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Season beef with some salt and pepper as it cooks. Drain off excess oil.
- Add onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and Gochujang (start with the lower amount and add more to taste as the soup cooks). Saute until onions are turning soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and kimchi and saute for 1 minute more.
- Pour stock, soy sauce, and mirin over vegetables. Bring to a simmer.
- Add tofu to simmering soup and cover. Simmer soup for 10 minutes to let flavors come together.
- When soup is finished, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Season with some salt and pepper.
- If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
- Serve soup with green onions on top and rice on the side. (You can stir rice into the soup at the table or eat them separately.) Add some extra kimchi and / or Gochujang if you’d like. Enjoy!
This meal has 29 reviews
This was really great! This will definitely be a repeat. I added extra kimchi because I was digging the flavor (first time I've enjoyed kimchi). I left out the tofu, because you know... its tofu. I might try stew meat the next time mainly because I feel like a soup like this should have chunky meat instead of ground meat, but it was still really tasty.
I have mixed feelings about this one - I really liked the flavor (I had pretty spicy kimchi and gochujang which helped), but between the tofu and the mushrooms there was way too much mushy/bland and not enough of the more flavorful and crunchy. I think I'd make this again with stew beef and extra kimchi, and possibly some additional vegetables, rather than tofu.
The broth is SUPER bland when you make the recipe as is. I had to have my mom doctor this soup to make it taste better. She tripled the kimchi, added a can of tuna, and added several tablespoons of miso paste to give the soup more body and flavor. I would not make this recipe again without these modifications.
Will add more kimchi and spice next time. Easy and great for leftovers.
Loved this! Taste it as you cook because there's a lot of room for more flavors. We added some Hoisin while cooking. I added plenty of kimchi and gochujang when serving. I think sambal would be a good addition too if you're serving it with rice.
I'm going to put it on the keeper list and double all the flavors next time: soy sauce, mirin, Cochujang (even though I used sriracha), garlic and triple (or more) the kimchi. The flavor is very good, there's just not enough of it. After I've tried it with more seasonings, I'll decide if it is going to stay on the keeper list. I didn't measure the sriracha, so I'm not sure if I used the upper limit or not, and I did add some to my bowl, which helped!