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. Maangchi,

    Thank you so much for this! I try to cook Korean food often, but usually I eat it alone because my parents and nephew don’t like much of what I cook. But my nephew (21 months) could not get enough of this! I mixed it with peas and rice and he was shoveling it in. I will cook it more often! :)

    Thank you again,


  2. Areiniah Tasmania, Australia joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    I can’t eat wheat flour (I’m gluten free) so can I use the milky rice water instead? How do you make it? Just wash some rice and use the water from it? :) Or, should I use rice flour instead of wheat flour? Also I can’t seem to find dried anchovies here (Tasmania, Australia) so I will use beef stock instead as I read other people suggested that for those that don’t like anchovies. Maybe one day when I can find the dried anchovies I will try it! Excited to try this recipe :)

  3. jvance Texas joined 9/14 & has 2 comments

    Thank you so much for this recipe it is quite easy to make, and very tasty. I made this with Korean radish leaves, and my husband and 2 1/2 year old love this soup. I will have to make this for my mother-in-law when she comes to visit, since she also loves doenjang soups.
    I was wondering what other main dishes, soups, or banchans that you would advise for someone with a child?

  4. Aniron Oklahoma joined 5/16 & has 6 comments

    Amazing! Though probably not quite the same as yours. D: My boyfriend doesn’t like anything fishy, so I used beef broth instead.

    See full size image

  5. Adi Gardena, California joined 2/16 & has 1 comment

    Can i use regular cabbage if im in a budget and i already have on hand?

  6. Joe.C Seattle WA joined 11/14 & has 2 comments

    My wife picked this one for me to cook tomorrow.

  7. pp_123 Hong Kong joined 12/14 & has 9 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    This soup is one of my long-time favourite because it is so easy to make! I am now reviewing this recipe again as I just bought some perilla seed powder home today. Can I know how I can apply the powder to this soup? Many thanks!

  8. rocknchick Rockford, IL joined 12/14 & has 11 comments

    I’ve made many of Maangchi’s recipes and this one was the first that I didn’t like. It was really fishy. It’s not Maangchi’s fault- I’ve discovered that I really don’t care for anchovies. I’ll eat all kinds of fish, but don’t like the broth made from the anchovies. I did eat a bowl of the soup, though, adding lots more soybean paste, soy sauce, sauce from the Fire Chicken recipe, and putting the tofu side dish on top and mixing it all up. It was good that way. :) The tofu side dish was AMAZING! I’ll try making the soup again with beef, chicken, or veggie broth and see if I like that better.
    One thing I’m not sure of- are the guts removed from the anchovies BEFORE they’re dried? I didn’t use the heads, but assumed the guts were removed already. If not, won’t they be hard to spot to remove?

  9. Lynnjamin New York joined 11/14 & has 31 comments

    Stop what you are doing and make this soup. For my guests tonight, I thought I needed a sort of boring, non-spicy soup that would do the job of being the soup but not steal the show like those bossy showoffs in bubbling clay pots with 87 ingredients. (You know who I’m talking about, soondubu jjigae). I had hoped that the spicy stir-fried pork was going to be the star tonight, but this humble, simple, utterly inexpensive soup completely captivated everyone.

    Polish girl: “Hey! This is cabbage soup. Wait. Whoa! No it’s not!”.
    Mexican guy: “There is something SPICY in here!”.
    Korean girl: “Who taught you how to make this? It’s just like mine, except that it tastes good”.
    American guy: Slurping noises, but no comments.

    Thank you Maangchi for another winner!

  10. HaeWon joined 6/15 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’m new to your website :) Thanks for sharing all your recipes.

    I made this soup today thanks to you. This is the first real Korean dish I ever cooked (ok, I can make congee too)!
    Instead of dried anchovy I used anchovy stock powder. The taste was good but I want to be sure it’s ok to use that for other of your recipe too ?

    Also, I want to cook Korean dishes for my son of 18months. Except for congee/juk, what kind of dishes can I serve him ? Is this soup ok for a toddler ?

    Many thanks.

  11. carmen5144 China joined 3/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I can’t find dried anchovies, can I use fish sauce instead?
    Also I will try with Chinese cabbage :-)

    thanks. I love your videos. It has become my new hobby to cook your dishes :-)


  12. envy you abudhabi joined 5/14 & has 3 comments

    Thank you for your effort. I enjoyed your video very much. this video is fun and easy.
    and you are so friendly.

    I learned your soup, and I have a question. when you made a soup with flour, and you said your mother’s friend did. and your garnadmother used milky rice water. Can I could use rice powder instead of flour?

    My daughter has a gluten alergy. So I want use. rice powder.
    My English is very little. so I am going to write Korean. Please read and answer to me.
    안녕하세요. 이 블러그를 찾은지 몇일 되지 않았지만 제 딸과 함께 정말 재미있게 보며 배우고 있습니다. 무엇보다도 많은 재료들을 사용하지 않고 음식을 만들어 내시는게 정말 좋구요.
    만드시는 방법을 보면 우리엄마가 하시던 방법과 매우 비슷하여 혹시 전라도 분이 아니신가 궁금해 지기도 합니다.
    위에 너무 짧은 영어실력으로 우선 질문을 올렸는데요. 제 뜻이 정확히 전달디었는지 모르겠어요. 딸이 글루텐 알러지가 있어서 밀가루를 제한하는 식사를 하고 있어서 가능하면 쌀가루를 쓰는데..아무래도 밀가루 보다 쌀가루가 더 좋기도 하구요..위의 단계에서 쌀가루를 써도 괜찮겠죠?
    바쁘셔서 제가 쓴 글을 읽으실 수 있을지 걱정되지만 혹시나 해서 올려 봅니다.
    그럼 앞으로도 건강하시고 지금처럼 행복하세요~~^^

  13. ddnorman Southern NH, USA joined 9/13 & has 75 comments


    I was looking for some easy to make comfort food and I thought I would try this. It looked easy and I had been wanting to do something with 된장. This was only the second time I’ve used it. I love its flavor! This soup with rice and 멸치 부친 was perfect! I felt satisfied after eating it!


  14. mikesaidyes Seoul, South Korea joined 3/13 & has 1 comment

    I live in Korea so, naturally, I have access to all the ingredients at emart. I see dried anchovies everywhere. Can I buy cleaned, dried anchovies? If so, what is the Korean name?

  15. Zachofalltrades Los Angeles, CA joined 2/13 & has 1 comment

    I often do vegan interpretations to most of your recipes. For this kombu is a nice substitution, but when i’m in a hurry I use veggie fish sauce. (yes there really is a such thing!) Such good comfort food. :)

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