Kimchi soup

Kimchi-guk 김치국

I’d like to introduce you to my family’s special kimchi soup recipe today. It’s called kimchiguk in Korean, is very easy to make and it’s a well-balanced “one pot meal” when served with rice. You get the vitamins and minerals from well-fermented kimchi, and protein from pork and tofu. It’s great for the winter: nutritious, warm, and satisfying.

I don’t worry about making any other side dishes when I make kimchiguk. It’s so delicious that I don’t pay attention to anything else, I just keep eating the soup and rice until it’s done. : )

Before there were modern methods of preservation and farming in Korea, we had to prepare food for the long, cold winter when vegetables were hard to come by. Neighbors would get together right before winter starts and prepare huge batches of napa cabbage kimchi together, enough to last all of the families involved for the whole winter. This kind of event was called a kimjang. To make sure the kimchi didn’t freeze over the winter, we stored it in onggi crocks and buried in the ground so the temperature was always above freezing and our families could eat nutritious kimchi all winter.

Of course, nowadays we have vegetables all year long and electric refrigerators, but many Koreans still make winter kimchi in late November because napa cabbage is in season so it’s fresh, delicious and cheap. It’s still the best time to make napa cabbage kimchi.

When I lived in Korea, I usually made winter kimchi in the beginning of December and would eat it until late March of the following year. Like many Koreans living in apartments, I’d keep my onggi on the balcony. When I made kimchiguk, the first thing I did was put on my long red rubber gloves. Then I’d take a stainless steel bowl out to the balcony and get some kimchi. Oh, I’ll never forget the feeling of pressing down on the top of the kimchi in the onggi after taking some out!

You’ll never get tired of this soup. Make this soup and you’ll soon realize why Koreans make such a huge batch of kimchi at the kimjang: we can make hundreds of different delicious dishes with it.

Ingredients (for 2-3 servings)

  • 2 cups of chopped kimchi
  • ½ pound of pork shoulder (or pork belly), cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons of hot pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 1 package of tofu (14 ounces:396 grams), cut into bite sized cubes
    kimchi soup ingredients


  1. Combine the kimchi, hot pepper paste, kimchi juice, pork, and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot.
    kimchi soup
  2. Add water and bring to a boil over hight heat and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add tofu and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add green onion and remove from the heat.
    kimchi soup
  5. Serve hot with rice and a few more side dishes if desired.
    kimchi soup

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  1. Petra Spanien Denìa joined 11/22 & has 1 comment

    I love this soup more than anything.

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  2. echacha Toronto, Canada joined 4/20 & has 6 comments

    This is so delicious especially I made with old kimchi. I had bbq with my friend and I still have half lb leftover raw pork belly and many chopped kimchi yesterday. I was thinking I should try to follow this recipe tonight. At the same time, I was worried kimchi soup will taste sour. To be honest, I had never tried kimchi soup in any Korean restaurant before. Lol I am so surprised the sugar and hot pepper paste turn soup not sour at all. Thank you maangchi!
    PS ~ i saw your video playing in galleria grocery store in Toronto. Cheer!

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  3. HunterJE Kirkland, WA, USA joined 8/11 & has 2 comments

    This really is one of those dishes where the contrast of how easy it is to make to how good it is kind of makes it feel like you’re cheating at cooking

  4. NotMathematical Toronto, ON joined 10/19 & has 1 comment

    This is honestly my go to soup. I always go for some more. Instead of boiling the pork thorughout, I sautee with garlic, onion, salt and pepper and then add it to the soup.

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