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. Horse999123 Colorado joined 5/13 & has 1 comment

    How much soup does this recipe make?

  2. louloulydie France joined 10/12 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi !
    I really appreciate your blog :) It’s really nice to see you cooking because you love that and you have a good character :) My husband is korean and I’m french, I watched your video at the beginning to know how cooking korean food : I really love eat korean food. Actually I have not a lot of time and I would like to ask you if there is a recipe of soup that is possible to do and keep it during one week in the fridge ? I would like to do it the weekend and eat for breakfast every morning. Of course I will add the rice cooked every day :) Thank you for your answer :)

  3. lovex3jennyy New York joined 6/12 & has 8 comments

    Maangchi its hard to find dried anchovies in Long Island New York, will it be the same if i use anchovy paste?… if so how much would u recommend.

    I love this soup with tofu yummmm!

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

      I wouldn’t replace dried anchovies with anchovy paste. Check out some Korean grocery stores in New Jersey or Flushing. You will be able to find dried anchovies. If you want, use dried kelp instead of dried anchovies though.

  4. fetosoap United States joined 7/12 & has 4 comments

    I forgot to pick up anchovies at the store and used some hon dashi instead, do you think that will work?

  5. fitXmom Florida joined 5/12 & has 21 comments

    Can I use canned bean sprouts? I am sure they are not as good as the fresh ones, but they could be an alternative? This is a link fro LaChoy brand.

  6. schneidi82 Germany joined 4/12 & has 1 comment

    wow, this soup was just mindblowing. Thank you very much!!!!

  7. ZenMistress California joined 4/12 & has 7 comments

    Yes Maangchi, I’m a korean person who doesn’t know how to make kongnamulguk. Thank you for posting the spicy version, which I really prefer. Although it is true that both are good. I followed your recipe and it is delicious. Thank you!

  8. Peedee San luis obispo, CA joined 5/10 & has 5 comments

    One of my favorite soups. Made this today with mung bean sprouts & I forgot the garlic, but it was still good. I added firm tofu.
    Tip-if you don’t have an infuser for the anchovies, you can use a coffee filter & just staple it shut. Then just toss it.

  9. Leah Boise, ID joined 11/11 & has 4 comments

    I just made the spicy version for lunch. It was so incredibly delicious, so suprising for how little ingredients there were. It brought me back to Pusan. Yummy!

  10. AngelaC Pittsburgh, PA joined 11/11 & has 3 comments

    I have not been feeling well, so my husband made the spicy version of kongnamulguk for me. It was delicious! Thank you, Maangchi!

  11. marybelle lim philippines joined 11/11 & has 1 comment

    thank you maangchi you helped me so much to lern how to cook korean…. for my husbond

  12. andrea kim oahu, hawaii joined 6/10 & has 13 comments

    Can I make this with mung bean sprouts? I have a bunch in the fridge that will go bad soon …

    • Porcke Texas joined 10/11 & has 1 comment

      Yes you can substitute mung bean sprouts in place of soybean sprouts. I prefer it myself and generally any bean sprout that is about the size of the soybean. More people are switching to other kinds of bean sprouts other than soy due to the concern of the phyto-estrogen( “phyto” only means that it is plant derived), or estrogen that naturally occurs in soy for those concerned with that issue.

  13. Linner Coxsackie, NY joined 3/11 & has 6 comments

    For those who don’t know, the mesh ball Maangchi uses is called an infuser.

  14. susek Cleveland, OH joined 4/11 & has 1 comment

    I just made this soup! It’s awesome! I actually made an anchovie/iriko stock with kelp and a dried shiitake mushroom ahead of time since I didn’t have your handy mesh ball. It was really simple, I love it. I’m going to tackle kimchi next… thanks for all the great recipes and videos!

  15. Kayla Baltimore, Maryland joined 11/10 & has 21 comments

    I’ve been making a soup like this for a long time whenever I get sick. It always helps clear up the congestion. I don’t write down my recipes, so I need to wait until I make it again, but in my version I don’t use salt and just increase the amount of soy sauce, I use fresh peppers boiled with the stock (which I make homemade vegetarian stock), and I’ve never tried putting ground roasted sesame seeds in it (only the oil). Sometimes I throw in tofu or other vegetables, but I love soybean sprouts so those always take the center stage. I must try it your way, though. The ground seeds sound like they’d be good, and of course with radish kimchi (one of my favorites).

  16. jaylivg Houston joined 7/10 & has 107 comments

    wow .. finally i got to try this soup .. it’s cold outside , and this soup totally warms me up !! My nose is runny now !! LOL , but this soup is delicious , i tried the spicy version , super easy and so yummy !! great for a cold day like today , thanks maangchi !!
    although i ran out of soy sauce , ended up using teriyaki sauce LOL and i didn’t grind the sesame seed either , still tasted good !

  17. Casey New Jersey joined 4/10 & has 7 comments

    I have made this recipe so many times now Maangchi! Thanks so much for posting it. My BF and I both feel like we have a cold coming on so I made it tonight with extra onions and garlic. It’s like a bowlfull of joy :D

  18. Hi Maangchi,

    My husband enjoys a sprout soup at a Korean restaurant in Chicago, but they won’t give him the recipe! It did learn it has 5 kinds of sprouts, tofu and pine nuts in it. It’s good for people with cancer. Any ideas what this soup might be?

  19. Bakuryuu joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    When I was in Korea, I had Kongnamul guk, but it was cold, I only ever had it cold. How do I do this? just refrigerate after cooking and serve cold? It was very delicious cold, and refreshing!

    Thank you for your recipes!

  20. peonygirl portland, oregon joined 8/09 & has 18 comments

    I followed your recipe but the soybean spicy soup came out very watery with out much taste! In the pictures, it looks like the sprouts are in alot of water -the amt in the recipe was not enough so I added more. I should have added more of the other ingredients. It looks so flavorful and I was soo disappointed but I will try again. Any suggestions?

  21. shethatisnau Las Vegas, NV joined 5/10 & has 8 comments

    Maangchi!! This is delicious! I made it for breakfast two days ago and it makes an awesome first meal with a bowl of rice and natto! The subtly umami anchovy broth, the crunchy bean sprouts, rich sesame seeds~ yummy! I’ve had it two days in a row and can’t wait to make more. Thank you soooo much! This is probably my favorite recipe yet, and it’s so simple! I can’t wait to try more now :}

  22. Maangchi I made this today and you are sooooo riiight!! The kaktugi is sooo good in the soup! Now I understand why you couldn’t stop eating it in the video!! Instead of Julie and Julia, I feel like this is Elisabeth and Maangchi! :)

  23. Hi Maangchi, I’m impressed by your videos… I’m a vegetarian who does not take onion and garlic, is there any way that i can modify this receipe to suit my diet??? And for the non-spicy version, could i cooked it with addition of the red pepper flake to make it spicy?? Please advices.. THank you!!! =)

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

      Yes, you could add the red pepper flakes in non-spicy version recipe. The amount depends on your taste! mild hot, super hot.. or suicidal hot! : ) If you can’t eat garlic and onion, skip them. Without garlic, kongnamulguk is still delcious. But how about green onion? Can you eat it? If so, use it instead of onion.

      • as long it is onion, i cant eat it… But anyway, really thank alot… I tried cooking your pan-fried tofu with the soya-sweet sauce, it tastes great without any onion and garlic added to it… Thanks alot for your guidance… I shall continue to try other receipes and hope that you will post more vegetarian receipes up on your website… =)

  24. hi maangchi,
    this is probably a silly question but how do you make jak ko bap? i call it the purple bap. i usually buy the bag of mixed grain (brown rice, alot of different beans etc..) i soak it for a couple hours and then i cook it in the rice cooker but it never comes out right…should i add regular rice and sweet rice too it? please help!

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

      I make my multi-grain rice this way using a pot.

      1. Combine 1 cup of short grain rice, 1/2 cup of sweet brown rice, 1/2 cup of barley rice, and 2 tbs of black sweet rice
      2. Wash and drain a couple of times and put it in a pot with a thick bottom
      3. Pour 3 cups of water into the pot and soak it for a few hours and close the lid.
      4. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
      5. Open the lid and turn the rice over with a rice scoop or spoon.
      6. Simmer it over low heat for another 10 minutes!

  25. Hi, Maangchi, how do you cook the black sweet rice? I want to cook it to go with my kongnamulguk (which is absolutely delicious by the way! I love your recipe! It’s especially tasty if you let the soup soak overnight in the fridge so the flavors seep in more, ive found) and kimchi (which I also love your recipe for! So much better than the kimchi I had at a Korean Restaurant! Yummy!)

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

      Thank you for your interest in my recipes! Here is the recipe for my multi-grain rice including the black sweet rice:

      1. Combine 1 cup of short grain rice, 1/2 cup of sweet brown rice, 1/2 cup of barley rice, and 2 tbs of black sweet rice
      2. Wash and drain a couple of times and put it in a pot with a thick bottom
      3. Pour 3 cups of water into the pot and close the lid,and let it sit for a few hours
      4. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
      5. Open the lid and turn the rice over with a rice scoop or spoon.
      6. Simmer it over low heat for another 10 minutes!

  26. Maangchi,

    I just found your site and I really love it! You are sooo super duper cute!

    I loved the part in the video where you just kept on eating the soup even though you were filming… hahah! Thank you so much for doing this! <3

  27. chit villegas& has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    you day if one can cook KONGNAMULGUK, she can cook good korean food….I think I can consider myself a good Korean cook! My husband loves this soup even my daughter whose taste is not easy to satisfy….and I must say…you are making me a good korean cook.

    More power to you Maangchi…and may you be more inspired to bless lots of peopl’es heart through your website…by the way I introduced your website to two other friends…they are also excited to pass it on.


  28. I have to say that I enjoyed the entire soup all to myself. I brought it to work for my lunch for the whole week with whole-grain rice and ground sesame seeds. So good and so healthy! My next recipe to try is the soybean sprout salad. I just love soybean sprouts and it is very healthy to eat that. I am trying out one recipe at a time from your site so I love the fact that I can watch your videos over and over to refresh myself on a recipe.

  29. Hi Maangchi: I finally made this spicy version of this soup and love it. I did exactly to your video demonstration, even used dried anchovies. Remember, I didn’t want to touch the anchovies at first, but got strong and decided to do exactly how it should be. Even removed the guts of the anchovies. I am not sure if I cooked the soup too long because the soybean sprout was a bit soft while the bean part of the sprout was still crunchy.

    I have a question about washing the soybean sprout. I had some sprouts with root tails about 3 inches long and was a bit stringy looking. Do I remove those. It didn’t look too appealing to me so I spent time to remove all the stringy root tails of each one. I had a 1/2 cup of tails at the end. Your video didn’t show you removing any tails, but I wasn’t sure if my bag of sprouts was getting old so I removed them.

    This soup makes quite a bit so I will have some for my lunch tomorrow with some whole-grain rice. This is not my husband’s or my son’s type of soup so the soup is all for me. Thanks so much for this post and making this video. I must of watch this video 5 times before I finally was able to make it. Even after I made it, I had to watch the video again to see if I did it correctly.

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

      Yayee, you could remove dried anchovy’s gut! Congratulation! : )
      “..soybean sprout was a bit soft while the bean part of the sprout was still crunchy.”
      Yes, it’s very normal. well done!

      The tails of soybean sprouts are more than 3 inches? Then they should be removed. Soybean sprouts sold in a package here don’t have long tails, so I don’t have to pinch the tails off.

      “I must of watch this video 5 times before I finally was able to make it. Even after I made it, I had to watch the video again to see if I did it correctly.”
      You are right! Good job! Congratulation again! You can make this delicious and healthy soup forever. Isn’t it cool?

  30. Hi Maangchi,

    Can i replace kelp with anchovies if i’m making the non spicy version for my children?

  31. hey, maangchi! i finally made your delicious kongnamul guk and posted it here. it’s almost as good as my grandma’s, i can’t believe it! (:

  32. What can I substitute for the anchovies in the spicy version?

    Also, do you have a stir-fry recipe for the soybean sprout?

  33. Facebook User California joined 9/08 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi, Hello! Can I use Mung Bean Sprouts instead of the Soybean Sprouts. Would it make much difference and would you cook it longer or shorter?


  34. Whats Reason Behind Adding MSG? .
    I’ve Heard Its Quite Bad For Health

  35. Hi..!!
    Maangchi i Made It Today It Was Delecious
    And Idea Of Roasted Sesame Powder is Great^^
    But I Used Anchovies I Removed Intestine & Head But
    Anchovy Divided Into Several Parts While Boiling;(
    It was Coming To My Mouth
    I Tried To Find That Strainer Kind of Dish Which U Used But They r not availiable right now
    & Yes I Want To Make Myulchi Bokkeum
    Those Myulchi Made Good Stock
    But i dont Do They Could Be Used For Myulchi bokkum or not how can i show you pic
    Do you have E-mail address?

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