Despite my love of soup, I feel as though I try to avoid it in Korea as much as possible. I usually find the kimchi-based soups too fiery, the miso-based soups too salty, and the fish-based soups too fishy for my palette. I had resigned myself to the idea that seaweed soup (from select diners) was as good as soup got in Korea, until my school served a rather simple looking soup last spring.
The miso was subtle, the green onions and daikon radish slices tender and flavorful, and the hint of heat never once overpowered the vegetables. I asked a coworker for the name of the soup, hoping that I could order it in the future at restaurants, but she described it as, “a soup the cafeteria makes when it has leftover vegetables.” It had no special name, it was just a hodgepodge soup.
I have always remembered that soup, and have done my best to replicate it at home – with a few changes, of course. In keeping with the hodgepodge feel, I added nutritious kale, sliced shiitakes, and lotus root – all items in my house that needed to be used quickly. I hope you will remember this soup the next time you find yourself with a fridge full of perishing vegetables.
One last thing: I have chosen to keep the rustic, waste-not integrity of the dish, and I serve the soup with the green onion ends, as it was served to me. I encourage you to do the same.
Ingredients (serves 4)
6-7 cups water
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 generous tablespoons of miso (soybean paste)
1 teaspoon gochujang (red chili pepper paste)
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 inch wide piece of daikon radish, cut into paper-thin slices
15-20 lotus root slices
10-15 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces, ends set aside
10-15 shiitakes, stems removed, thinly sliced
4-5 large kale leaves, stems removed, torn
1. In a soup pot on the stove, cook the minced garlic with a little olive/sesame oil over low heat until fragrant.
2. Add the water and increase the heat. Add the lotus root slices, daikon radish, and green onion ends.
3. Allow the soup to come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 minutes or until the lotus root becomes tender.
4. Add the gochujang and pepper. Add the shiitake slices and simmer for an additional two minutes.
5. Remove from the heat, and add the torn kale leaves. Pour a little of the broth into a cup and whisk in the miso, until it is completely incorporated. Add this back to the soup, along with the remaining green onion pieces. Serve immediately.