Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae is a comforting soup full of flavors of garlic, sesame and gochugaru. Felicia Lo / Daily Nexus

As the temperature starts to drop in Isla Vista, what else is better than a hot bowl of soup that can energize and soothe you? To combat the upcoming slightly depressing season, I wanted to share three of my favorite soup recipes that have gotten me through the cold and seasonal depression. With a bowl of rice or some pasta, these soups can supercharge you and give you the energy you need during gloomy days.

You will notice a lot of the servings and ingredients are in ranges and not absolute numbers because home cooking is all about comfort and personal preferences. These are mine and what works for my friends and family. Some days you want more flavor, some days you want more protein and other days you want more richness, so take these recipes and make them yours in your cooking experiments! 

  1. Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (aka. Kimchi Tofu Soup)

Time: 5-10 minutes for prep, 15-20 minutes for cooking

Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 cups water (or just until all ingredients are covered in the pot)
  • ⅓ block of soft or silken tofu (but regular is ok too)
  • 1 cup kimchi 
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1-2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) or gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 1 tsp olive oil (omit if you are using a fatty protein like pork belly)
  • 2-3 tsp soy sauce (to taste) 

What would be awesome to add:

  • ⅓ cup protein of choice (personal fav is chopped up pork belly, but you can also do chicken, tuna, or just tofu)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce or monosodiom glutamate (MSG)
  • 1 egg


  1. If using pork belly, first stir fry it in your pot. If using other types of protein, sweat out your onion and garlic with olive oil on medium heat first and leave the protein for a later step.
  2. If you haven’t added your onions, add it now. 
  3. Cut the kimchi into 1-inch squares, or bite sized pieces if your kimchi came in whole leaves. 
  4. Once the onion is softened, add the kimchi and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Add in the gochugaru, stir the ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  6. Once the ingredients in the pot are well mixed, add the water.
  7. Add gochujang if you have some, and add the sesame oil along with the tofu. You can also add the fish sauce or MSG at this stage.
  8. Cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary. 
  9. Once the soup is cooked, add the egg (if desired) and cook for another 3 -5 minutes, or just until the egg white is cooked but the yolk is still jammy.
  10. Finally, sprinkle the chopped green onion as a topping. Serve with rice for the best combo! 

The three most important flavor enhancers in this recipe are definitely the garlic, sesame oil and gochugaru (and/or gochujang). This recipe comes from countless experiments and validation from my roommates and family, and now it is your turn to find the perfect garlic, sesame oil and gochugaru combo that best suits your taste! Personally, I tend to overload it with garlic gochugaru until I reach my spiciness tolerance, but that’s just me. 

For the best eating experience, I highly recommend eating the soup with a bowl of rice, and piercing the egg yolk to mix with the soup and rice for the best creamy flavor. 

  1. Salmon Miso Soup

Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings as main course, 4 as a side. 


  1. For the base
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 piece kombu (dried kelp) or 1 tablespoon dashi powder
  1. For the soup
  • 3-5 tbsp miso paste of choice 
  • ½ pack of soft tofu, cubed to ½ -¾  inch pieces. 
  • 1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed (the tealeaf-like ones)
  • 1-2 green onion, chopped


  1. For the base, boil the water with kombu for 20 minutes or boil the water with the dashi powder.
  2. Once the base is ready, stir in the miso paste
  3. Once the miso paste is properly disbursed, add the tofu and wakame seaweed and cook for around 5 minutes, or until boiling
  4. Add green onion and serve with rice. 

Something I like to do to spice up the soup is add some cubes of salmon for the extra protein and umami. Most seafood goes amazingly well with miso, so tuna and many types of seafood also make an amazing miso soup. 

  1. Ginger Chicken Soup

Time: 10 minutes for prep, 25-35 minutes for cooking. 

Yield: 1 per piece of chicken 

What you’ll need: 

  • 2-3 chicken thighs or drumsticks, skin on
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, diced (around 2-3 thin carrots)
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 32 ounces (1 carton) chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Seasonings: black pepper, garlic powder, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, sliced 


  1. Add the olive oil to a deep or wide pot and spread evenly at the bottom.
  2. Add the chicken thighs or drumsticks, skin down, and sear it until the skin is golden brown. 
  3. Take the chicken out and put it aside for now. Add the chopped carrots, onion, and celery to the pot and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened. 
  4. Add in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Once all the vegetables are well combined and cooked, add the chicken stock and the bay leaf, along with the remaining seasonings. Add your ginger slices here.
  6. Cook the mixture on medium heat until you see bubbles form.
  7. Add the chicken back to the pot and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Taste your soup and adjust the seasoning and salt level.

For the best eating experience, serve with rice or some cooked pasta with grated parmesan (please grate this yourself and not use store bought grated parmesan because it will not melt into your soup).  When I cook this dish during any other time of the year, I omit the ginger, but this winter after getting sick, I found adding some slices of ginger into the soup made it a lot more hearty and comforting. It’s more like a warmth that comes from inside your body. It made me feel more relaxed and my throat more soothed when I got a cold, so definitely try this out if you feel like you’re about to get sick!