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



  1. chawisssse Manila joined 1/14
    Posted January 25th, 2014 at 11:41 am | # |

    this is making me excited to make my next batch of kimchi!!! I just finished up the first batch that I made by making kimchi-fried-rice –my family loved it so much I had to use up half a jar of kimchi. I knew I should have used 10 pounds of kimchi instead of 4 pounds :)) Anything I do with your kimchi is an instant hit at home! Thank you maangchi :)

    I will save a portion to ferret longer so I can make this KIMCHIHUK!!! How exciting <3

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 26th, 2014 at 9:01 am | # |

      That’s great! It sounds like you know how to use kimchi in many dishes just like Korean housewives! : )

  2. sandycaleb Singapore joined 9/13
    Posted September 26th, 2013 at 10:26 am | # |

    hi.. why is mine turn out totally different taste? haha… sorry as this is my first try…

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 26th, 2014 at 9:04 am | # |

      Don’t worry. Follow each step tightly next time. You can modify it to your taste. Good luck!

  3. wllee Johor, Malaysia joined 6/13
    Posted June 14th, 2013 at 8:30 am | # |

    Hi, I have tried the recipe and the soup taste awasome. but i have a question, the soup turn clear at the top after a while. Is it because i have added egg or is it because i did not cook as long as suggested (Mine is around 15 – 20mins total). Thanks

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 15th, 2013 at 9:37 am | # |

      It’s only natural. Stir the soup and reheat it before serving.

    • uhmgawa USA joined 7/17
      Posted August 1st, 2017 at 10:17 am | # |

      If the broth is thin, over time the solid particles are going to settle out to the container bottom. As suggested, a stir will redistribute them. You can also add some starch or flour dissolved in cold water to increase the viscosity of the broth which will considerably slow the settle-out of suspended solids in the broth. I find this is also the only way when adding a beaten egg to get a “long threads” texture as the egg is gradually added and slowly drawn throughout the soup. Without modifying the viscosity of the broth, the resulting texture of the egg winds up as a foamy custard on top of the soup rather than long drawn threads fully integrated into the soup.

  4. blasianbear Louisville, KY joined 4/13
    Posted April 22nd, 2013 at 2:33 pm | # |

    I made this for friends yesterday, and it turned out excellent! I used my homemade kimchi that I made from your recipe (2nd batch actually). Thanks so much for sharing all these great recipes that I grew up eating!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted April 24th, 2013 at 10:49 am | # |

      Awesome! You are an excellent cook! : )

  5. garfield411 New York City joined 9/12
    Posted April 8th, 2013 at 12:04 am | # |

    I tried this it was very good. I also added 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes to make it SPICY! delish.
    Question though, only the video tells you how much sugar to put in, it is not listed in the ingredients.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted April 8th, 2013 at 9:59 am | # |

      Thank you for pointing it out! I fixed that part! Cheers! : )

  6. kyoko buffalo, ny joined 4/13
    Posted April 4th, 2013 at 11:10 am | # |

    This looks wonderful! I just received a quart of homemade kimchi and I am going to make a pot of soup today. How much sugar do I add?

  7. ebowling_01 Grand Rapids, MI joined 12/11
    Posted April 2nd, 2013 at 2:19 pm | # |

    I just made this soup a few nights ago for my boyfriend and it turned out so delicious! I had kimchi that had been sitting in my fridge for several months and making this soup was a perfect way to use it up! I was surprised at the depth of flavor this soup had with so few ingredients. Thanks again for the recipe and for helping me keep my man’s need for food from home satisfied :)

  8. universewithme universe joined 3/13
    Posted March 20th, 2013 at 6:20 pm | # |

    I am away from Korea over two year and six months! I love to have it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 울 엄마가 해준 김칫국이 최고!!으캬.. 제가 만들면 완젼..ㅠ..우겍.

  9. Stefania Switzerland joined 3/13
    Posted March 17th, 2013 at 2:43 pm | # |

    hi maangchi! i’m vegeterian. any suggestions on what to replace the pork with?

  10. dragonlee London, England joined 12/12
    Posted March 14th, 2013 at 7:47 am | # |

    I really like making this and eating it with rice noodles. It tastes better than my favourite Shin Ramyun!

  11. stonefly Olympia WA joined 11/11
    Posted March 2nd, 2013 at 8:06 pm | # |

    Another great recipe – I make this all the time, nice and spicy. One question though: your rice added at the end looks amazing! Have you ever discussed this rice or offered a recipe? It looks purple!!!

  12. MeepKitty Florida joined 10/12
    Posted February 26th, 2013 at 8:26 pm | # |

    Nomnom!! I fried about 1 tb of red pepper flakes in sesame oil for the broth and placed about 5 dried anchovies for a delicious broth!!! :) I used beef because that was all I had, but kimchiguk is best enjoyed with pork guys! Thank you for the recipe maangchi ^__^ it was delicious like always.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 26th, 2013 at 9:30 pm | # |

      Adding dried anchovies sounds wonderful!

  13. soko2usa Minnesota joined 4/09
    Posted February 23rd, 2013 at 1:43 pm | # |

    Oh, I love onggi! One of my great regrets was not being able to take an onggi home from NY when I was there so I could make proper kimchi. Do you also put kakdugi in them?

    I must make some more kimchi later. Thank you for your recipes!

    <3 Kerri

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 3rd, 2013 at 8:22 pm | # |

      Kerri, yes, I will use it for kkakdugi, too! : )

  14. zz malaysia joined 2/13
    Posted February 22nd, 2013 at 7:11 am | # |

    hi maangchi! how is kimchiguk different from kimchi jjigae?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 23rd, 2013 at 6:53 pm | # |

      kimchiguk is soup and kimchi jjiage is stew.

  15. salina Malaysia joined 8/11
    Posted February 20th, 2013 at 8:58 pm | # |

    hi maangchi :) can i replace the pork to beef?

    • ina78 Jerteh, Terengganu, Malaysia joined 4/09
      Posted February 21st, 2013 at 9:47 am | # |

      Of course we can…. Hehehe…..

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