As a college student, I could get down on some Top Ramen. I would dress it up with an egg, green onions, sriracha… good times. But now that I can’t eat gluten without breaking out, I sadly have to pass on those delicious wheaty noodles. Instead, I eat rice noodles like they’re in danger of going out of production. Rice noodle soup might not be as uniquely satisfying as ramen, but it’s still damn delicious.
I recently came back from a trip to Europe, and after about 20 hours of travel all I wanted was spicy kimchi and eggs in hot soup. I happened to have half a package of rice noodles in my fridge and a bottle of gochujang in the back of my pantry, and I was able to bring some of the best Korean flavors together in one bowl in this kimchi noodle soup.
The tang of the kimchi and the spicy sweetness of the gochujang sauce meld into something otherworldly. And I love the red broth the pair produces. The jammy eggs bring that lovely luxurious texture and a pop of color, and the crispy tofu adds some crunch and extra protein.
This is ultimate winter comfort food, and I warn you that you may be tempted to eat two bowls of it in one sitting. I did, and I don’t regret it.
Spicy Kimchi Noodle Soup
For the fried tofu
- 1 package extra-firm tofu
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inches ginger, minced
- 1 jar kimchi, about 2 ½ cups
- 2 tablespoons gochujang sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- ½ package rice stick noodles (pho noodles), about 8 ounces
For the garnish
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup green onions, diced
Other optional garnishes
- Baby bok choy
- Enoki mushrooms
- Bean sprouts
- Sesame seeds
- Nori, dried seaweed
For the fried tofu
- Slice tofu into two layers, like a cake, and wrap in paper towels. Place between two plates and top with a heavy book, pot, or even a sugar bowl. This process will soak up excess water and aid in the frying. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Next, chop tofu into 1- or 2-inch cubes or strips, and place pieces in soy sauce, turning occasionally to coat. Let sit at least 5 minutes. (You can skip this step if you’re trying to cut back on salt or just don’t like soy sauce.)
- Drain remaining soy sauce from tofu and sprinkle cubes with corn starch. Toss to coat. Cubes should develop a thick, gummy layer of starch.
- Heat oil in heavy-bottomed pan, like cast-iron, over medium-high until oil shimmers but does not smoke. Add tofu cubes to pan and enjoy the sizzles. Brown each side of tofu cubes before turning – cubes should be golden brown and nice and crispy.
For the eggs and soup
- For the soft-boiled eggs, fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Now for the soup: In large stock pot, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 2 minutes, until fragrant but not brown. Add kimchi, gochujang and soy sauce, cooking about 3 minutes. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with cool water for about 10 minutes. This will allow them to cook more quickly. Set a timer to ensure you don’t oversoak the noodles – mushy noodles are not your friend.
- Meanwhile, carefully lower eggs into saucepan of boiling water. Once water is boiling again, cook 6 ½ minutes, transferring eggs to bowl of ice water to cool.
- After your soup has cooked down a bit, add the noodles to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Noodles should be tender, but not mushy.
- Once eggs have sat in ice water for at least 2 minutes, peel them under cool water and cut in half lengthwise.
- Ladle soup into large, deep bowls and top with eggs, tofu, green onions and whatever else your hungry heart desires.