“Life itself is the proper binge.” ~ Julia Child
In honor of Valentine’s Day and the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, I’ve masterminded a soup for our brave, wacky and tad bit suicidal parts. It’s vegan nourishment at its best, which sounds very goody-two-shoes, but it’s really quite dank and delicious with a powerful, sour-spicy kick. Just like I prefer my lovers.
Speaking of sexy: It didn’t used to be sexy to speak about your colon and its functions or contents. As a registered dietitian, my mantra has always been: “The road to health is paved with good intestines.” And it’s now the height of hipster-ness to eat—and make your own—fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, kraut and kombucha.
This simple soup consists mostly of kimchi and gochujang with some tofu and scallions, making it dark, dangerous and irresistible—something you must try at least once. If the Korean spices aren’t intense enough then wait until the end when your bowl is topped with a raw egg yolk. This soup has an oddly addictive quality to it but I’m not sure that I actually enjoyed eating it. Hence the name of the soup.
Although kimchi is a fantastic fermented food that I eat almost daily, all of the gut-friendly benefits of kimchi are lost in the preparation of this soup. But all encounters with food need not be transactional: We are allowed to stand down from the vigilance around “being healthy” and eat for pure pleasure from time to time. I prefer to balance kink and kindness, and this extends to my food choices.
When I want to treat my belly with loving kindness, I incorporate—on a daily basis—traditional fermented foods like kimchi containing live bacteria into my meals. The beneficial bacteria (if not super-heated) is essential for a healthy gut, which in turn positively affects our immune system, endocrine system and nervous system.
Our gut is often referred to as the “second brain” because it has its own complex nervous system and is highly influenced by our thoughts and psychological stress. I’ve come to realize this on an intuitive and experiential level. Traditional Chinese Medicine and other healing traditions have recognized this for generations.
Western medicine has also finally acknowledged the huge role our gut plays in bodily systems outside digestion. Recent research has shown that tweaking the balance between beneficial and disease-causing bacteria in an animal’s gut alters brain chemistry, leading it to become more bold or more anxious. Alternately, even mild stress can tip the microbial balance in the gut, making us more vulnerable to infectious disease.
On to the fun and games of soup-making:
S&M Soup Ingredients:
16oz silken tofu, cubed
1 TBSP raw sesame oil
4 cups cabbage kimchi, gently squeezed and chopped, plus 1 cup liquid
2-4 TBSP gochujang (what can you handle?)
8 scallions, sliced thinly
2 TBSP tamari (I use reduced-sodium)
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
6 large egg yolks (or 1 per bowl)
Shake or two of toasted sesame seeds
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Pour liquid off jar of kimchi (reserve) and coarsely chop. Add kimchi to the heated oil (first) and then add gochujang (or it will start popping and sizzling and splattering everywhere—not the kind of excitement you want).
Cook, stirring often, until it begins to brown (5–8 minutes). Add kimchi liquid and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until kimchi is softened and translucent (35–40 minutes).
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat, carefully add tofu cubes, and simmer about 4 minutes. Wait for them to rise to the top like ravioli (note: tofu doesn’t actually need to be cooked). Using a slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a medium bowl.
Add scallions, soy sauce, and tofu to kimchi broth; simmer gently about 20–25 minutes.
Add sesame oil. Ladle soup into bowls; top each with an egg yolk and sesame seeds.
Attempt to enjoy with your lover.
Author: Tahirih Linz
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Author’s own