Soybean paste soup with cabbage

Baechu-doenjangguk 배추된장국

Hi, everybody,
I’m so excited to introduce this simple and healthy soup to you!
Korean meals are usually served with rice, soup, and other side dishes. Just in case you don’t know what doenjang is, I’m telling you that doenjang is Korean fermented soy bean paste.

You could make so many different kinds of doenjangguk using different vegetables such as spinach, potato, radish leaves, fresh mugwort (ssuk)… Of all the vegetables, baechu (napa cabbage) doenjangguk is the most basic soup and every Korean loves it. (Let me know if you find any Korean who doesn’t like this soup) : )

I will give you a short quiz now. : ) What would you call doenjang guk made with spinach? … pause … yes, it’s called shigeumchi-doenjangguk. Shigeumchi is spinach in Korean. Heh, it’s easy, right?

When my grandmother made this soup, she always used milky rice water instead of water. Every day she made a huge amount of rice to feed her family. When she washed, rubbed, and rinsed her rice grains, she got the milky water. When she made doenjangguk, she used that milky rice water in her pot.

When I was in middle school, the lady next door ran a restaurant. She sold baechu-doenjangguk. She and my mother were friends, so we were like family. Most of her soup customers were male workers who needed a cheap and simple breakfast before starting work early in the morning. What time in the morning? Before dawn! To be ready to serve this soup, she probably should make it at 2-3 am? Her soup was very popular so that her restaurant was always crowded especially in the morning.

I saw her serving her soup to her customers. When her customer was sitting at the table, she ladled the soup into a large bowl from her huge pot and added a little barley rice (about 2 tbs?), and put it on his table. Only one side dish was there, kkaktugi (radish kimchi). That’s all! The worker’s stomach will get warm with the hot soup and a little bit of rice!

I used to wake up with the irresistible aroma from the soup she made. Sometimes the smell made me go crazy! : )

Her doenjangguk was not spicy and a little brown and milky. It was super tasty!
I saw she used flour instead of rice water. She made this doenjangguk exactly this way I’m showing in this video recipe. Only thing I skipped is MSG. : ) Instead of MSG, I use more dried anchovies.

I miss her now. We lost connection long time ago when my family moved to another place.


700 grams of Napa cabbage (half of a medium size napa cabbage), ⅓ cup soybean paste, 10 dried anchovies, 6 cups of water, 1 green chili pepper, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2 tbs flour.



  1. Put about 700 grams of Napa cabbage directly into boiling water and stir it with a large spoon for 20 seconds. Boil it for a minute with the lid open.
  2. Rinse it in cold water a couple of times to clean any remaining dirt from the cabbage leaves. Gently squeeze the leaves to get rid of any remaining water.
  3. Chop the cabbage into small pieces and put them into a large pot.chopcabbage
  4. Add ⅓ cup soy bean paste, 5-6 cloves minced garlic, 1 chopped green chili pepper, 10 large dried anchovies (after removing heads and guts), and 2 tbs flour to the pot.flourmix
  5. Mix it by hand or a wooden spoon.
  6. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil for 20 minutes over medium high heat.
  7. Lower the heat and simmer another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with rice and other side dishes.ladle

*tip: Do you like spicy soup? Then add some hot pepper paste right before simmering (step 7).

tofu Tofu side dish

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  1. ChristinaC California joined 2/17 & has 8 comments

    Why does the cabbage need to be blanched separately first? Is there something else besides dirt that needs to come out? If not, then wouldn’t it be the same to chop up the cabbage, rinse all the dirt out, then add it to the soup? I am a busy mom and any steps I can shorten helps me a lot,lol! Thank you for your great recipes all these years!

  2. Minabi234 Malaysia joined 12/19 & has 1 comment

    Hello, I would really like to make this recipe. But my doenjang is super black colour. It looks like the black bean paste but it’s not. I already check the box. It’s a soy bean paste so my question is Would it still be good to use it? Since super black I’m worried it might affect the taste and colouring.

  3. Asellia France joined 10/18 & has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi.
    I can’t find dried anchovies here at my local asian market, so I was wandering: since I have some (very very small) dried shrimps would it be ok to use them in place of the anchovies? And how many of them should I use? I’d really like to try this recipe, thank you for sharing it :D

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      The reason I use dried anchovies is to make the broth savory. So if they are not available you can use anything that will make it savory. The most important thing is that if the broth is delicious, your soup is going to be more delicious!

  4. BeelzeBabe Finland joined 9/18 & has 9 comments

    Hi Maangchi, it’s me again! :D I hope you don’t mind me leaving so many comments recently.

    I made this today, and it’s incredibly simple and so, so hearty, healthy and tasty! Maybe next time I’ll add some more vegetables in, too, like leek and carrot… I also added some leftover ssamjang (about a generous tablespoon or so) before simmering, and the soup turned out delicious! Perfect food for a gloomy, cold rainy day.

    Thank you so much for sharing so many of your wonderful recipes, they’ve brought a lot of sunshine and variety in my life. :)

  5. siobhankim New Zealand joined 8/18 & has 1 comment

    Dear maangchi, can we use cabbage instead of napa cabbage? If we can how long should we cook it for? Should I place it last? Thank you in advance ♥

  6. maryk Hong Kong joined 8/18 & has 1 comment

    I’ve never tried this soup before but wanted to try cooking it after reading your recipe and watching your video. I couldn’t find napa cabbage and large anchovies in my local store. Only small Chinese cabbages and medium sized anchovies were available, so I used two small cabbages and more of the medium sized anchovies (no fish parts removed) as substitutes. I also didn’t have a strainer for the anchovies so simply stirred them into the rest of the ingredients. Well, guess what? The soup turned out super delicious! I even ate the anchovies which were were soft and tasty! Love your recipe and video! Can’t wait to make it again! It’s a perfect winter soup! Thank you for sharing, Maangchi!

  7. KoreanFooodlover Philippines joined 7/17 & has 5 comments

    Hi maangchi, i hope you will response so you can help me, can i eat this cabbage and soybean paste with Samgyeopsal instead of doenjang jjigae??

  8. O, Joo-Hwan Las Vegas, Nevada USA joined 2/17 & has 10 comments

    Served this today for dinner. Made a double batch to be sure there was enough. This is bapdoduk. Served with spicy tofu. I got my recipe mixed up with doenjang jjigae, and had already cut up some zucchini and some onion so I tossed those in as well. Couldn’t hurt. Everyone had seconds. I’m a star with this recipe.

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  9. John in Baton Rouge Baton Rouge Louisiana joined 12/16 & has 40 comments

    OMG this is delicous. I made this last night and it turned out so good :) I had cooked shrimp earlier, so I used the shrimp shells to make a stock then used it along with the dried anchovies for this recipe. TASTY! Garlic goes so well with this. Next time, I’m adding even more!

    • John in Baton Rouge Baton Rouge Louisiana joined 12/16 & has 40 comments

      omg omg omg… I made this again yesterday :) This time I adjusted it to my own taste by doubling the garlic, using a lot less liquid, and increasing the flour significantly. mmm I like it thick like a stew like that. And the anchovy or something similar is an absolute must for this recipe. I happen to use Hondashi (japanese instant dashi powder) just because its easy and I have it on hand already and need to use it up :) LOVE LOVE LOVE the briny, earthy doenjang flavor in this… (i increased that a LOT too lol)… THIS RECIPE IS AWESOME!!!! THANK YOU MISS MAANGCHI!!!!!

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