Cabbage and soy bean paste soup

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




  1. Amber& has 36 comments


    I made this tonight and it was sooo tasty. I let my little Lily taste the broth and she loved it! So it’s a big thumbs up for this soup from us!

  2. annie& has 14 comments

    hi maangchi!!!!! i made this for dinner tonight with miso instead since i didn’t have korean bean paste – it is SO GOOD!!!!!!!! thank you so much for this yummy recipe :)

  3. jewels& has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I been following your website for over a year now. I love Korean food ever since watching 大長今. There was so much food involve in the series. Makes me so hungry when I watch it ^_^

    You make Korean food look so simple. I showed my mom baechu doenjang guk video, b/c we have never heard/seen Korean cabbage soup sold in resturants (Toronto). And wow its so delicious!!!!

    My mom normally makes Tofu soup, pork bone soup, ginseng Chicken Soup, and bulgogi pork by following your videos. And my experiences w/ your receipes are always delicious!

    This past summer I went to Jeju, Busan and Seoul for 5 days. In Busan, I had this yummy fish soup at a local specialty Fish resturant that i can’t seem to find a receipe for. I see you have a receipe for Spicy fish soup (maeuntang), but the one I ate wasnt spicy. I have no idea what its called in Korean. I hope you can help me.

    Thanks for all your yummi food.

    jewels =)

    • Alex& has 47 comments

      I bet the fish soup you are talking about is Daegu tang. I don’t have a recipe but this is what alot of Korean fish places serve as a non-spicy soup.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,772 comments

      yeah, non-spicy fish soup is so delicious, too! To make it, you will have to find very fresh fish, Otherwise it will be too fishy. : ) (heh, fish should be fishy! lol)
      Yes, someday I will post the recipe! Thanks a lot!

      • jewels& has 2 comments

        yes you are right! amazing enought the fish soup in Busan had no fishyness at all. My bf and I was soooo amazed. b/c we both dislike fish soups due to fishyness.

        But at the time, we walked in a specialty fish resturant in Busan w/out knowing, thinking we can get pork belly grill =)

        the waitress knew no English, so all they did was point to the other tables eatting, and well we ordered their special …w/ no regrets! amazing fish soup we ever had!

        jewels =)

  4. Abigail& has 16 comments

    can’t wait to try this out… :) thanks for the recipe maangchi… i’m looking forward to making this!

  5. Mankycat& has 2,258 comments

    I used a combination of potato starch and corn starch instead of flour and it turned out great! Even my 19 month old son liked it. :-)

    Thanks for posting such a great recipe.

  6. judy c& has 2,258 comments


    it is 12am and your blog is driving me crazy. I wish I can teleport your food from my computer. so hungry now. ahhh

  7. Nan& has 2,258 comments

    Another tasty recipe to try ^_^ thanks Maangchi. I think I’ll add an egg to this soup since I’m craving eggs too heh.

  8. Anonymous& has 2,258 comments

    i love ur cooking and a big fan of ur recepies
    very nice and entertaining too.

  9. D& has 43 comments

    Is the soybean paste and Japanese miso the same?

  10. Chriss& has 2 comments

    Is there a way to make this soup vegetarian? I’d really like to try it – it looks delicious! And all the food I’ve made from your recipes have turned out very good. =)

  11. csyama& has 3 comments

    Aloha, Maangchi!
    So nice to have you back again. Loved your background music (from one of my most fav kdramas–Dae Jang Geum). Your soup looks delicious, especially with the bap.

  12. Felix& has 2,258 comments

    hahahah! maangchi!!!! the theme from 대장금 goes so well with your actions and plot! You made such a wonderful decision for the background music for this recipe~~ it’s like the show could have really used some shots from your video :D

  13. Mankycat& has 2,258 comments

    My husband can’t have wheat (like all purpose flour). Would rice flour, cornstarch, or potato starch work?

    • Alex& has 47 comments

      i would expect that any kind of starch will make the soup jelloy and thick.. i do not believe that is the purpose of putting flour in it. Instead it gives the creamy feel to the soup. I think rice flour would be better. let’s see what maangchi says.

      • Mankycat& has 2,258 comments

        According to Maangchi’s blog, her mother used rice water… which was loaded with rice starch, but not rice bits (rice flour is made of ground dry rice). This and your comment got me thinking. Usually we use cornstarch or potato starch for thickening other soups, which is common in gluten free cooking. My concern with rice flour is it might add too much graininess.

        I think we’ll actually try cornstarch (or a mix of a few)which will add a thickness… and is something I’m more accustomed too with soups anyways. I just wasn’t sure how that would affect the flavor or if someone already tried a non-wheat version.

  14. hazel& has 2,258 comments

    Thank you for posting this recipe maangchi! it’s funny that you post this now actually, because i was planning on going on a diet with most of my meals being korean food =D so when you mentioned in your video that this was a healthy soup, i was very glad XD and the other day, i was debating what i should do with the doenjang in my fridge before it goes bad XD! so yaaay!

  15. Chelsie& has 3 comments

    Hello Maangchi ! This is one of my favorite soups. I really like eating it in the winter too ! Thanx.

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