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. hanaxela joined 1/10 & has 4 comments

    Wow. I just found this recipe today and knew my Korean husband would love it (he has loved 99% of the things I’ve cooked from your site). His reaction to the first spoonful? MMMMMMMM! You can make this every day! You can freeze it and save it for later! He was so excited to have this soup. We had it with 멸치볶음 myulchi bokkeum, 대구전 / Daegujeon (for me, I don’t like mackerel), broiled mackerel and some other side dishes (bellflower root, seaseoned dried seaweed, 깍두기 kaktugi kimchi – your recipe!). My daughter (9) loves your myulchi bokkeum so much, I have to have it at the table for every meal! :-P (Today she made it herself.) THANK YOU, MAANGCHI!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      I’m so happy to hear about your successful Korean cooking! I can imagine your dinner table where your whole family is eating delicious Korean meal!

  2. Darlene Seoul joined 1/10 & has 6 comments

    Hey…me again..I found a link to some photos someone took and it happens to be that restaurant…..they said it was sundubu guksu. This is the link so you can see what it looks like…I guess they gave me a smaller portion to go with my noodles.


    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      Hi, Darlene,
      I have never tasted and made it, but I think it will be very easy to make! : ) Make some noodle soup and add some soondubu! I will post my noodle soup recipe someday. Check my sujebi recipe. You may have an idea of making this soondubu noodle soup then.

      • Darlene Seoul joined 1/10 & has 6 comments

        Thanks for the response. I looked at the sujebi recipe and I think I can make the soondubu guksu pretty easily. Off to the E-Mart for supplies this weekend. When I try it I will let you know! Thanks for pointing towards a recipe to start with.


  3. Darlene Seoul joined 1/10 & has 6 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I was in a noodle shop yesterday and had bibim guksu. i wanted to ask you about the soup they served with it and how you think I could make it. It was a clear fish based broth with gim and korean chili peppers in it with chunks of tofu. I loved it! Any ideas on how I could come up with it or what the name of that soup would be? It was a Myeongdong Noodle Story pace. It has a picture of a korean halmoni on the logo. The soup was spicy and delicious. My korean is very limited so I had no way to ask the ladies that work there.

    Thanks for any help.

  4. pjuls123 joined 1/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I have a lot of lettuce leftover from a previous meal, and was wondering if I could substitute that for the cabbage.

    Would the dish taste weird?


    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      yeah, it sounds strange to me because I’m not accustomed to doenjangguk made with lettuce instead of baechu (napa cabbage).
      But you can try it out. Why not?

  5. Jennifer& has 1 comment

    I’m enjoying your recipes and will try making this tonight — it’s like watching my mother-in-law cook! I wanted to ask, why do you blanch the baechu first before adding all the other ingredients instead of using it raw?

  6. Leilei& has 2,272 comments

    I tried to buy soybean paste, but I think I bought the wrong one ><

    The one that I bought looks like this

    Can I use this one, or will it turn out weird?

    Thank you~~

  7. Sylvia joined 9/08 & has 78 comments

    I made this again today, this time I added one potato cut up and some tofu cubes. Very yummy for a cold day.
    The flour is the secret to a rich broth.

  8. Ko Seo Yeon& has 1 comment


    I love your recipe :D It’s really tasty! Do you think it would be possible to substitue Anchovies for small dried shrimp instead?

    Thankyou Maangchi!

  9. William& has 1 comment

    Thank you for the excellent recipes and the broadening my knowledge of your culture. In making this soup is there something I can substitute for the anchovy. I have a seafood allergy. Thanks for your reply

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      hmm, why don’t you skip dried anchovies and use shiitake mushrooms (2 or 3) and onion (about 1 cup amount sliced onion) in this recipe?
      I think it will be good. Let me know how it turns out!

  10. Peiling& has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    Sorry to trouble you, but is it possible to list down the ingredients in the fermented soy bean paste? Those that are available in Singapore are all in Korean and I do not understand the words. As I have some food allergies, hence I would need to know what are used in the paste. Thank you!

  11. Imre& has 13 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    Accidentally I put in two tablespoons of polenta (corn flour) instead of all purpose flour.. Whoaa, big shock :S.
    I scraped some out and put in the tablespoons of flour. Turned out great after all.. Love the recipe!

    Thanks :)

  12. Bluecrab Northern New Jersey USA joined 7/09 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I just made a pot of this soup this afternoon… as you know, it’s pretty cold in the NYC area today, and this soup is excellent for a cold day.

    This is an excellent recipe… I substituted a teaspoon of the Korean fish sauce that is used in kimchi for the anchovies, and it tasted pretty good.

    Thanks for this and all of your other recipes! Great website.

  13. haksaeng& has 2,272 comments

    If I don’t have anchovies or the container you used for them, is it possible to use Japanese dashi powder as a substitute? I haven’t been to H-Mart in a long time, but I do have a box of dashi in a cabinet.

  14. Kim& has 6 comments

    When I hear this music, it makes me think of Jewel of the Palace and makes me want to eat! This looks so good!

  15. Anonymous& has 2,272 comments

    hey, manggchi… when making this 국, can i add 두부?

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