What we ate: C&V-ified Korean hot pot

This soup was loosely modeled on one we had last winter at a local Korean place. After a long weekend out of town, dinner on the way home sounded pretty amazing. We both decided on a spicy vegetable soup, his with beef and mine (allegedly) vegetarian. Two huge bowls arrived, full of brightly colored broth and vegetables. After a few spoonfuls, Mr. C&V looked up. “This is amazing–could we make it at home?” To which I blithely responded: “Sure, we just need to find a recipe!”

Thus began a six-month on and off odyssey of trolling the internet for ideas. I didn’t have much luck finding a recipe that would work well for us without a lot of tweaking–most had meat, and many had a slew of exotic ingredients, which I’m always leery of in new recipes. I hate winding up with packages or containers of unused ingredients, or worse, throwing food away. Anyway, back on topic. We cobbled together a list of likely ingredients and decided to have a go at it on our last batch cook. Rather than make a pot of full-on soup, we decided to try for a concentrated soup base for freezing, then thaw, dilute, and augment with vegetables and meat as needed.
When I originally put this soup on the meal plan for the week, I had thought I’d manage to fit in a trip to the Asian grocery to pick up yam noodles and some more ethnically appropriate vegetables. I also thought I might stir in an egg. But when Friday evening rolled around, I was exhausted and not in the mood for extra grocery trips to either the Asian grocery or Costco (our usual source for eggs). Time to throw authenticity completely to the wind and start improvising.
A quick rummage through the fridge yielded carrots, summer squash, red bell pepper, and scallions. Plus some already cooked cabbage and kale that needed using up and that I figured could serve as a quasi-kimchi. I tossed the soup base into a pot with some water and broth and started it heating while I got to work on the vegetables.
Everything needed to cook quickly in the soup base, so the squash and pepper got a little jullienning, and half of the carrot got a quick run through the box grater (the other half turned into a pre-dinner snack and got a quick run through my mouth instead):
Hello, dinner.
Total prep time? About 8 minutes. At this point, the soup base was merrily bubbling away, so in with the vegetables. And, in lieu of that egg I had originally dreamed of, a cup of chickpeas (yes, I like to add chickpeas to everything. Don’t yell at me, I know they aren’t Korean. But they work). Three minutes later, dinner is served. And devoured.

What restaurant foods have you tried to recreate? How did they turn out?


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