Soybean sprout soup

Kongnamulguk 콩나물국

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).

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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

Ingredients

Serves 3 to 4

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Directions

  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.

Serve
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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149 Comments:

  1. luvskat USA joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    Is there a substitute for dried anchovies/dried kelp I could use? Thanks!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 comments

      Some people make soybean sprout soup without dried anchovies and kelp. But I always use dried anchovies to make the broth delicious. You can try it out without anchovies or use chicken stock.

  2. Yumika Hiroshima joined 3/14 & has 2 comments

    After I made the khakdugi of course I had to challenge the Kongnamulguk and I must say that went really well. I didn’t have anchovis – I used flying fish broth instead. It was delicious, thank you!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 comments

      Kkakdugi and kongnamulguk are good friends! I always eat my soybean sprout soup with kkakdugi or fermented kimchi. Good luck with your Korean cooking!

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

    Maangchi,

    You make it too easy for us to become good at Korean cooking! We can’t go wrong with your recipes! For instance, I made kongnamulguk last night and it came out delicious. When my brother-in-law’s girlfriend likes it you know its good as she’s not had much experience with Korean food.

    As always…thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    망치선생님 감사합니다!
    한국 음식 학생 데이빗

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 comments

      haha, you seem to spread Korean cooking to all your family and now to your brother-in-law’s girlfriend! I’d like to meet all of you someday!

  4. Miss Kim78 socali joined 3/13 & has 40 comments

    Hey Maangchi. I have heard stories about how the Korean nobility used to eat guk on the side with the rice, whereas peasants ate theirs with rice inside it. I’ve never studied Korean history in great detail since I grew up in the states. But my guess is that the peasants were so pressed for time to get back to their subservient duties? Is that correct? I find it very interesting. I eat Guk like a peasant on days I am in a hurry. And I eat it like nobility when I have the leisurely time. I guess it was similar circumstances for people in those times. I wonder what other kind of food peasants ate. As for nobility, I am sure they had a little of EVERYTHING!

    This is how I eat my Kongnamul Guk http://www.behgopa.com/2013/11/eating-kongnamul-guk-soybean-sprout.html

  5. Romy1978 Argentina joined 4/13 & has 4 comments

    Hi! How is it?
    I love 콩나물국!! I wanted ask you something: I love the rice that you eat in the video with spicy 콩나물국… my friend’s mother always make it but she’s in Korea since a few years ago and I couldnt ask her how to make that rice.So can you tell me how?
    Thanks a lot! Your food is amazing!!!
    Bye!!

  6. Horse999123 Colorado joined 5/13 & has 1 comment

    How much soup does this recipe make?

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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 12,051 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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? http://www.lachoy.com/products/vegetables.jsp This is a link fro LaChoy brand.

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

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

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