Today’s recipe is for kongnamulguk (soybean sprout soup), which is one of the most common, typical, and popular Korean soups, made with soybean sprouts in a delicious, savory broth.

As you know, a Korean meal is composed of rice, soup or stew, and side dishes, so soup has a very important role in Korean cuisine. This soybean sprout soup is not only an everyday Korean staple, it’s also well-known among Koreans as a hangover cure soup, along with dried pollock soup (bugeoguk).

The soup is irresistible with savory broth and nutty crispy soybean sprouts. I often wonder if other cultures have a soup like this? It’s so important and central to Korean food that whenever you visit any Korean grocery store in any part of the world, they always stock soybean sprouts. These days you can find soybean sprouts in many non-Korean grocery stores too, or you can grow your own.

I made a video for this recipe in 2009 soon after I moved to the US from Canada. The recipe is basically the same as this one, but the video quality is much better and I can write a better recipe now, having written 2 Korean cookbooks since then!

When I was in elementary school in Korea I used to go to my aunt’s house during vacation. She didn’t have any children of her own so she was waiting for the moment I arrived. She gave me a lot of love, made me delicious meals and took me to the theatre with my uncle. She used to say, “oh, cute!’, then she squeezed my baby finger so tightly. It was a little painful but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to let her down by complaining. It was really a wonderful time for me and a great memory. One of the dishes she made was this soup. My mom’s soup was not spicy but my aunt’s was spicy and more savory. I remember she used MSG at the end which was usual in those days, but my version doesn’t have it.

A tip for vegetarians is to use vegetarian stock instead of anchovy broth and to use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.

Whenever I go to the Korean grocery I always buy soybean sprouts and make this soup, and I always have it with kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi), even if I have to make it with just one small radish! The kkakdugi needs to be well-fermented, juicy, spicy, and sour. White fluffy rice, soybean sprouts soup, and kkakdugi mixed together, I can’t compare it to any more delicious food in the world. I was raised on it so I am so happy to share my delicious life with you, too.Soybean sprout soup


Serves 3 to 4


  1. Place the anchovies in a stock pouch or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth.dried anchovies
  2. Place the soybean sprouts in a large pot. Add the water, dried anchovies, garlic, onion, gochu-garu, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir a few times with a spoon.making Korean soybean sprout soup
  3. Cover and cook for 30 minutes over medium high heat. It may boil over while cooking, just crack the lid if it does.
  4. Remove the anchovy pouch and discard.
  5. Stir in the salt to taste, green onion, and cook for another minute.kongnamul-guk (콩나물국)
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil.


Ladle into individual soup bowls, top each serving with sesame seeds powder. Serve with rice, kimchi, a few more side dishes (if desired). The soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.Korean soybean sprout soup

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  1. Pam Roach joined 9/08 & has 1 comment

    can you freeze this soup and some of your other soups ?

  2. Maangchi, i couldn’t find any anchovies here…. can i skip it?

  3. Hi!

    I wondered if you ever tried to incorporate squid into this dish. My mom uses the body of a fresh cleaned squid and gives the soup an very “refreshing” taste. Please try it and let me know if you like it!


  4. deborah Toronto, ON joined 4/09 & has 47 comments

    hi maangchi,

    this soup looks very good.
    my question is, how do YOU roast sesame seeds? i think i would burn them if i tried on my own… any suggestions/techniques?


    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      You could get roasted sesame seeds at a store.
      To roast raw sesame seeds, first wash and drain them,and use a heavy bottomed deep pan over medium heat. Stir them constantly until the sesame seeds are light brown and crispy.

  5. Maangchi,
    I am so happy you posted this recipe. It was cold and rainy outside today so I decided to make the spicy version for lunch. I ate it with kaktugi and it was so delicious! I thought that the ground up toasted sesame seeds were a nice touch at the end. I will definitely be making this soup often :) keep up the good work!


  6. Maangchi,
    All I have to say is mmm…I made the spicy version, and it’s amazing how something THIS simple can be this heartwarmingly yummy. The sesame was a nice touch; I was lazy and cheated–I used tahini instead of grinding up fresh sesame seeds (it’s sort of the same thing)

    If I had this soup while growing up, it would def be one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    haha, tiny fish floating on the top of the soup? Don’t pick them out and eat them just like a whale! : )
    It’s a joke! lol, I am having a good laugh while writing this joke to you.

  8. Sylvia joined 9/08 & has 78 comments

    I made the spicy version twice. The second time I had Kaktugi with it, very yummy. I love this soup because it is easy. I did have a tiny problem; I used the tiny anchovy because I didn’t have bigger ones and my strainer opened up and I had a lot of tiny fish floating around :) I did pick out most of them because it looks nicer. I had a good laugh with all those fish.

  9. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    hi, you have such a good blog! I should visit your website more often! It’s very informative and fun to read.

    Thank you for letting me know about the article! I don’t know what I should do. It’ll be ok because it’s not harmful? I don’t know. : )

  10. FatManSeoul& has 1 comment

    Just a heads up,
    this article has been stolen and appears on this website:
    Look under the food section.

  11. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    I’m very glad to hear about your successful kongnamulguk making!

  12. made the spicy version of this and everyone who tasted it said it was delicious. thanks again, maangchi!

  13. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    hoho, good to hear that you used this soup as home remedy! yes, you can use fish sauce,too.

    Please give me more description about your question regarding myeolchi (anchovy)and the Korean dessert.
    Or leave it here

  14. Hi maangchi,
    can i make it with just myeolchi
    & yeah i tried one korean dessert which was made up of ice & fruits i loved it what was it and can you show how to make it:)


  15. Maangchi~! I made this today because I had a bad hungover and a cold, and it really did make me get better like u said!!! Also, is it ok if I just use fishsauce if Im out of soysauce and salt? Like how u did in seaplant soup?

  16. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    yes, I remember Emart! I miss Emart at this moment! : )
    Let me know how your korean cooking turns out! Good luck!

  17. Manuela& has 2 comments

    I’m so happy you have this recipe as a video. Watching you eat this soup makes me want to try it even more. My husband loves this soup, so I decided to go to “Emart” (remember?!) and buy all the ingredients. I plan on making it soon.
    Take care!

  18. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    I envy you now because you got a big bag of kongnamul! : ) you can make kongnamulmuchim, too!

  19. Hi!
    I picked up a big bag of kongnamul at the Korean grocer by my apartment and have really been enjoying making lots of food with it!
    I’ve never tried soy bean sprouts before, only the mung bean ones that you usually see in the western markets.
    They’re vere tasty (and good for you too!)
    thanks a lot for the recipe!
    all the best.

  20. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    yeah, it’s definitely low calorie soup. You will like it.

  21. Sylvia joined 9/08 & has 78 comments

    This is a fantastic recipe. I made the spicy version.
    It’s easy to make and delicious.
    I’m certain this is a very healthy and low calorie meal.

  22. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    oh, the grain is black sweet rice (heukmee chapssal: 흑미찹쌀). It’s sold at a Korean grocery store. I’m going to post the photo of black sweet rice soon.

  23. looks delicious, as always. and i have to agree with paul; you are too cute

    i was wondering what kind of grains you cook together to get the purple colored rice

  24. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    wow, kongnamulguk and kimchee sound wonderful. Have a nice trip to LA!

    haha, thank you very much!

  25. I love your recipes and you are the cutest lady in the world!

  26. Austin (ajma417)& has 4 comments

    thank u maangchi!! i’m going to LA this weekend to visit my mom and sister~ she want me to bring some of the kim-chee I made~ she also loves kongnamulguk so I’m planning to suprise her by making it for her~ I’ll let u know how things go!! thank u again~~

  27. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    oh, I forgot to upload it. : ) Soon I’m going to upload it. thanks!

  28. Austin (ajma417)& has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I was just curious if this video was going to be made available through iTunes Podcast?
    Thank you again for ALL your recipes!! I love them!! And I love this soup!! I will try it this weekend!

  29. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    ox tail soup recipe will be posted someday later. The longer you boil it the richer it tastes. Thank you!

  30. Hi Maangchi, Loved the recipes,would you do some ox tail soup receipes that I loved, just can’t quite get
    the stock as rich as the ones I had at Korean town in
    silicon valley. Much Thanks CJ

  31. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    I’m sure your kimchi stew will be so delicious!

  32. i LOVE koongnamulguk (and your hair, lol)! thanks so much for posting this recipe, i can’t wait to make it. tomorrow my mom and dad want me to make kimchi chigae for them… i’m nervous! :P

  33. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

    Let me know how your kongnamulguk turns out! You can send me the photo of your soup if you want, then I will post it on my website. Good luck!

    oh, yeah? what a coincidence! : )
    If we meet each other someday, we will probably have lots of things to talk about!

  34. I also learn by watching my Aunt cook, she has no children, and also used to add MSG. I will submit pictures after I have cooked a few more dishes. I am going to try to make the rice cakes soon.

  35. Reinier Rotterdam, The Netherlands joined 2/09 & has 101 comments

    Hi Maangchi, this looks good and so simple, i will try it really soon.
    I am making more and more of your recipies and i am very pleased about the results.
    Keep up the good work!

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