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. spargel18 London joined 3/17 & has 1 comment

    This is delicious! I left out the tofu and added short grain rice during cooking to bulk it out. Also added some chopped gim. Thanks for the recipe, Maangchi!! :)

  2. ZainLovesCooking en52dt joined 8/16 & has 6 comments

    i’ve made the recipe,

    it was very tasty,

    will the recipe still be good without tofu?

  3. iiSoNiA66 Riverside,California joined 8/16 & has 2 comments

    Pretty simple as long as you got the hang of making kimchi. Thanks for tge recipe Maangchi. You r so clear cut with directions. You never seem to fail me

  4. katyajini new york city joined 4/16 & has 5 comments

    Hi Maanchi! I want to make this soup. Now I have soooooo much flavorful Kimchi juice saved from two large batches of your Kimchi. Can I use just the juice and not the cabbage leaves, and add some fresh vegetables instead? Would that work? What vegetables could work and how much juice do you think I should use for 5 cups water? The juice is sooo good I dont want to discard it! Thank you!

  5. adelini Romania joined 3/16 & has 4 comments

    Hi! Thank you for everything, you are amazing.
    What is a red after seaweed salad?

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

    Maangchi씨 안녕하세요!

    Your 김치국 recipe never fails me! There was just enough broth & rice at the end for me to soak it up! I wonder how that happened! ^_^

    As always, thank you for your delicious recipes and your good cheer!


    See full size image

  7. iemckinnon Menomonie, WI joined 2/16 & has 1 comment

    Delicious! I love all types of Asian food, and I have tried many of your recipes (10lb of kimchi in the fridge), and with each (of course) as you get more comfortable with them ever cook makes changes. Sadly pork is not on my diet at the moment, but I do make a version of this on the spicy side using a savory broth instead of water (similar to kimchi stew broth) and I use cod and previously frozen tofu cubes (firmer texture and absorbs flavor better). I have also gotten to sometimes adding pineapple and leaving out the sugar as I personally like the savory/spicy/sweet flavor that brings with the kimchi.
    So that is my personal kimchi soup.
    Thank you very much for your website. I love your recipes!

  8. szoritch Canada joined 8/12 & has 1 comment

    I haven’t been to your website for a while. Love the new doo.

  9. 18meisl joined 6/15 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I love your kimchi soup . May I know how much for grams is 2cups of kimchi? Coz I use to buy kimchi at supermarket. They have kimchi per packet of 150g.

  10. Aishahmhatta joined 5/15 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi I don’t have pepperpaste can I use pepperflakes with water instead?
    PS: Cant wait to tryout this recipe later on after my kimchi fermented!!

  11. Tosin_Oc London, UK joined 3/15 & has 40 comments

    Ooooh yummy!! Maangchi, could you possibly show us how you make multigrain rice? Do you mix different grains together or do you buy it already mixed? It would be so useful to see how you make it, it’s so pretty with all the different colours and textures! Thank you so much!

  12. jasperridge San Diego, California joined 2/14 & has 6 comments

    I love making this soup because it’s so simple!

  13. chrisbur21 Gaithersburg, MD joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Besides the pork shoulder, how does this differ from Kimchi JJigae?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,710 comments

      You can use pork shoulder cut in either kimchi soup or kimchi stew.
      Kimchi jjigae (Kimchi stew) has less liquid than Kimchi soup. And also the soup is less salty than the stew, so you can add your rice to the soup and eat all.

  14. Xiin Singapore joined 6/14 & has 3 comments

    Hello Manngchi,
    Would like to ask you is the hot pepper paste the same as hot pepper bean paste?

  15. ryulite Brisbane,QLD, Australia joined 2/14 & has 5 comments

    hi maangchi! love this site…. made my very first batch of kimchi… soooo excited about eating it already… but i was wondering will it be alright if i made this kimchi soup with fresh kimchi? i am so happy that i dont need to pay AUD12 for a bowl of my favourite korean soup at restaurants !

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