This 25-Minute Soup May Redeem Your Winter

It may also change your mind about tofu

Mark Bittman
Published in
3 min readJan 28, 2021


Photo: Burcu Avsar & Zach DeSart

Earlier this year (I believe it was just before quarantine set in) we did a sort of tofu primer, with an eye towards encouraging those of you who are anti-tofu or tofu agnostic to give this polarizing ingredient another chance. In doing so, I neglected to include the recipe that many people have told me was their gateway drug: kimchi-tofu soup.

Now that it’s basically winter, a dish like this — warm, comforting, highly flavorful, and done in 25 minutes — is a lot more than just a friendly vehicle for tofu; it’s borderline essential. The main ingredient is kimchi, which adds spice and sourness to the broth while requiring literally no work from you (unless you make your own). Note that while many varieties of kimchi that you can find at the store contain fish sauce or shrimp paste, there are plenty that don’t, so if you want to make this soup vegan, just look for one of those.

Where the kimchi delivers all the flavor, the tofu brings the body. Silken tofu is traditional in a dish like this; it soaks up every flavor you surround it with, and breaks apart gently in the soup. (Most people’s main complaint about tofu is the texture, but this stuff is luscious, smooth, and a lot harder to knock, IMHO.) A handful of short-grain white rice cooked directly in the broth thickens the soup and makes it especially hearty.

Normally, a dish with this much flavor and oomph takes a while to make, but when someone else takes care of the hard part (fermenting the kimchi), it becomes fast weeknight dinner territory. If this soup doesn’t turn you on to silken tofu, try this Mexican chocolate pudding.

If that doesn’t work, I may be out of ideas.

Kimchi Soup With Tofu

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1½ cups kimchi
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup short-grain white rice



Mark Bittman

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at