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. rjangus Stouffville joined 12/12 & has 1 comment

    Can’t wait to make this delicious miso soup. :-)

  2. makemequiche DC joined 5/12 & has 12 comments

    The broth had great flavor! I think I will shorten the cooking time next time… the cabbage was a bit overdone.

  3. chigau_me UK joined 11/11 & has 6 comments

    Made it earlier today for lunch! IT was so good! I had it with rice and kkakdugi :) delicious!

  4. Lixin Singapore joined 3/12 & has 3 comments

    Hi! I was wondering how many people does this recipe serve? Thanks! :D

  5. fitXmom Florida joined 5/12 & has 21 comments

    I made this soup today. So good!! And still have leftovers!! Yum! I couldn’t find the green chili peppers. So other green peppers at the store but wasn’t sure which one to get. So, next time, I will stop by the nearest Asian market to see if the have them.

  6. hyakume Budapest, Hungary joined 3/11 & has 2 comments

    I love this soup, it’s simple and tasty.
    I replaced the anchovies with dried shiitake mushrooms and kelp/dashima and it turned out fine.
    I get cravings for baechu doenjang guk on a regular basis in winter, so today I made some for the second time this week.
    Yum :)

  7. I want to make this using potato. Should I skip the blanching and mix the raw potatoes with the soybean paste and flour?

  8. DominiqueEchard North Carolina joined 5/09 & has 36 comments

    This soup is a great, fast dinner. I skipped the blanching step and just added all but the water to the pot, mixed it up and then added the water. It came out so well. Went great with the Dubu buchim yangnyumjang and some steamed black rice. If I ever get sick again (I rarely do) this is going to be my recovery food! Only used about 1/3 green chili and it was just the right amount of heat. Those things sure do pack a punch! But the heat has a great crescendo and then is muted a little, unlike oilier chilies which hang in your mouth forever. My first time using the green chili and I am a fan :D

  9. maiv california joined 8/11 & has 2 comments

    looks very delicious..but i was wondering what the purpose of the anchovies were? can you just do soybean paste and cabbage or do you have to use the garlic, pepper , and anchovies too?

  10. asiaaa09 joined 3/11 & has 3 comments

    ya it was Dae Jang Geum love it

  11. lenabonsai United States joined 7/11 & has 6 comments

    I love this recipe! We love all your recipes though, you are so great to have this site too. I made this for the first time tonight and it was delicious. I subtracted anchovies because I only had the very small ones and my boyfriend won’t eat them whole ( I added a couple to my bowl while the soup was still very hot ;) To make it a complete meal we added scallops and shrimp and to make it more spicy, some kimchi and kimchi juice, plus extra pepper. It was soo delicious! Thanks again for your instruction and great advice.

  12. motzmart New York City, New York joined 2/11 & has 11 comments

    Any substitute for Anchovies?

  13. oksipak California joined 1/11 & has 72 comments

    Just made this for lunch today. So simple yet delicious! You’re recipes are great Maangchi! Thanks so much.

  14. Nephry Germany joined 1/11 & has 9 comments

    Hmmm this soup is sooo good!

    We’re living in a household of only 3 persons so it would be hard to find use for a whole cabbage; therefore I like using some freshly made kimchi that’s only a few days old and not sour at all. It makes the soup a little spicy gives a really good flavour especially on such cold winter days. :)

    Also, whenever I make sujebi, I always make three or four times the amount of noodle dough I need. Then I roll it into flat circles (about the size of a small pizza) and freeze them so whenever I feel like making it, I just take them out of the freezer and within a few minutes, I can cut it or tear it right into soup. I love adding these noodles to the baechu doenjang guk as well. :)

  15. Meegs Daejeon, South Korea joined 4/10 & has 5 comments

    Loving the Dae Jang Geum music <3

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