Gochujang, red miso, and flour.

There’s an optimal combination of these to make a creamy, spicy, umami soup base/thickener, and I’m iterating towards it now.

Gochujang is a Korean deep red fermented spicy pepper paste that I found about a few months ago, and have been tossing into various dishes without any disappointing results. The taste is hot pepper with that fermented lactic acid tang (similar to sourdough bread or kimchi).

Red miso is a fermented soybean and rice paste of Japanese origin that has a richer salty umami flavor than soy sauce.

In traditional western cooking, flour is mixed with equal weight of butter to make a roux to make gravy and soup. The fat helps the flour to blend evenly into hot liquids (pure flour clumps immediately when added in hot liquid). The above pastes aren’t really analogous to butter, but can still be combined with flour to make a cream base. When one needs to add flour to a hot liquid without clumping, but doesn’t wish to add butter, then one has to preblend the flour in cold liquid (1/2c flour to 1c water), and then stir the cold mixture into the hot liquid a little at a time. As it happens, there’s no reason that cold blend can’t include a flavoring of red miso and gochujang.

My most recent iteration: 1c cold water, 1/2c flour, 2tblsp gochujang, 2tblsp red miso whisked together until blended smoothly and then slowly poured into a near boiling 2.5c water in a sauce pan produced a thick red soup that was too salty and too spicy at those quantities. The soup thickened from a “Campbells cream of”-like consistency to a gravy consistency as it cooled (which is a property that I like in a hearty soup). In my next iteration, I’ll reduce to 1tblsp gochujang and 1 tsp red miso. I expect the final product to lend itself to making beef, pork, sausage, chicken, potato, or vegetable chowder-thick soups/stews.

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