Being a vegetarian has been challenging in Korea, to say the least- even things that appear meatless probably contain traces of fish.  As such, I’ve been relying on my own home cooking, which is fine by me anyway.  However, I’m trying to embrace the food culture here, and have been making Korean-inspired dishes whenever I can.  Because of my tight budget (and the increasingly chilly weather), I’ve been focusing on hot soups: it’s cheap, easy to make, last for days, and keeps me from turning on my expensive floor heating.  Many people back home are probably grimacing at the thought of my diet containing so much seaweed, but I actually love it.  It’s light, salty, and one of nature’s all-encompassing superfoods.  Try adding some algae to your diet and see how much better you feel (probably the strangest-sounding advice I’ve ever given).  Enjoy!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


  • Half a head of Chinese cabbage, chopped into large slices
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 oz/15 g seaweed
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g tofu, cubed
  • 4 1/2 oz/130 g spicy soybean paste
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 8 c water
  • 1 tbsp oil (olive or sunflower)
  • egg (optional)
  • pepper to taste


Chop your garlic, carrot, and onions.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot.  Once hot, add the garlic, carrot, and onions and allow to saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Next add water, spicy soybean paste, and pepper (to suit your tastes).  Bring to a boil, then add the chopped Chinese cabbage.  Reduce to low heat, allowing the soup to simmer for about 25 minutes.  The tofu and seaweed can be added right at the end, with a few minutes to spare; if you add them earlier, they will disintegrate.  Serve hot.  For added texture and flavor, crack an egg over your bowl of veggie soup like the Koreans do; it will cook within seconds.

Yields 6 generous servings

Korean Cabbage and Seaweed Soup

Korean Cabbage and Seaweed Soup