Sweet & Sour Probiotic Soup (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Immune Boosting)
This healthy sweet & sour probiotic soup is a take on kimchee soup that makes a few key changes to preserve maximum health benefits (while retaining all that amazing flavor!). It’ll keep you from getting sick or heal anything you’ve already caught, and the sweet and sour, umami-rich flavor is out-of-this-world.
Everyone I know is either sick or detoxing right now (or embarking on “joyless January,” as one friend phrased it). This soup is good whichever boat you’re in, because it’s all about your gut. Amping up your gut bacteria is crucial for supporting healthy digestion of food and effective elimination of waste (which is really how you actually get the gnarly stuff out of your body). Your gut is also where the majority – yes, majority – of your immune system lies, so boosting your positive gut bacteria will help you get better, whether your illness is in fact bacterial, or viral, like most colds and flus are.
Based on a sweet & sour kimchi soup I had at a restaurant here in NYC, this recipe makes a few crucial changes to ensure maximum health benefits. There are three key ingredients here, which I’ll introduce you to one-by-one: kimchi, miso and garlic.
Kimchi is a fermented Korean condiment made of vegetables like cabbage, radish, scallions and more. Unlike, say, sauerkraut, kimchi typically includes some chili paste, so it has a bit of kick (although I’ve never met someone who found it too fiery). It’s a bit salty, spicy and adds that “sour” note that balances the sweetness in this soup. In this recipe, you’ll separate the vegetables from the probiotic-rich brine they’ve been steeping in, adding it at the very end of cooking so all of the heat-sensitive bacteria stay intact.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste. Beyond being packed with probiotics, it’s rich in glutamates, the compound that creates that “umami” flavor things like bacon and parmesan are known for. It’s adds an incredibly richness and depth to this soup, making it absolutely addictive. Like the kimchi juice, the recipe calls for the miso at the absolute end, to keep all of the probiotics intact.
While garlic isn’t probiotic, it’s actually rich in prebiotics, which are basically the food that the good bacteria feed on. Think of it this way: let’s say you have a goldfish bowl. You keep filling it with fish, but you never feed your fish, so they keep dying. Even if you constantly add more fish, if you never add food as well, they continue to die. If the goldfish bowl is your gut, and the goldfish are good bacteria, garlic is really great fish food. It’s also antiviral and antibacterial (often outperforming pharmaceutical antibiotics in double blind studies) – and, oh yeah, it’s super delicious. Here, you’ll mince the garlic at the beginning of the recipe, since letting it sit for 20 minutes activates its healthy enzymes, and you’ll add it at the very end, so it has just enough time to lose its sharp flavor, but preserves all its nutritive benefits.
So go forth! Drink soup! Stay healthy!
Note: if you make a big batch of this and need to re-heat, please do it gently over the stove to just warm enough to eat. If you heat it too much, you’ll many of the great benefits we just went through!
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (mince at the beginning, so it has time to sit at least 15 minutes before you add to the soup)
- 1 15 oz jar of kimchi
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 bunch soba noodles, broken in half (if you're gluten free, be sure they're only buckwheat or buckwheat and rice, since some contain wheat)
- 1 teaspoon miso
- Cilantro & thinly sliced radishes (optional, for garnish if desired)
- In a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, melt oil. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a nut milk bag or clean kitchen towel, squeeze kimchi juice into a bowl, reserving it for later. Set aside the kimchi vegetables.
- Add ginger and kimchi solids to the onions in the pot and cook for 2 - 3 additional minutes. Add vegetable broth and tamari and bring just to a boil.
- Add soba noodles and cover. Boil for 5-6 minutes or until noodles are just al dente. Remove from heat, add garlic and let stand for 5 - 10 minutes, or until the soup is still hot to the touch but not scalding. Stir in miso and remaining kimchi juice. Add cilantro and/or radish, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 4.