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Korean Soybean Paste Soup (Doenjang Guk)

Learn how to make everyday Korean soup – Korean soybean paste soup!

Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com Today I’m sharing Korea’s most staple soup – Doenjang Guk (된장국, Korean soybean paste soup/ Korean miso soup). As I was growing up, I think I had various versions of Doenjang Guk at least a couple of times a week, if not every day! Yeah, it’s such a commonly consumed soup in every Korean household, so you’ve got to try this!

Difference between Doenjang Guk (된장국) and Doenjang Jjigae (된장찌개)

I thought you might be wondering about the difference between Doenjang Guk and Doenjang Jjigae? Well, my simple answer is Doenjang Guk is Korean soybean paste soup and Doenjang Jjigae is Korean soybean paste stew. Guk (국) tends to have more water/stock/broth in comparison to the rest of the ingredients (vegetables and/or meat) than Jjigae (찌개).

This implies, not always though, that Jjigae usually has a stronger taste (may be even slightly saltier or spicier) than Guk. Also Guk is typically served in an individual serving bowl but usually Jjigae is served in earthenware and it is placed in the centre of the dinning table. People will share a spoonful of this Jjigae during the meal. However people do use the term Doenjang Guk and Doenjang Jjigae interchangeably as well.

There are different variations of soybean paste soup, but today’s recipe is a very basic kind – Tofu and zucchini Korean soybean paste soup (Dubu Hobak Doenjang Guk, 두부 호박 된장국).

In the recipe, I used my homemade dashi stock, which I recently shared with you and I only used Korean soybean paste (Doenjang, 된장), Korean chili paste (Gochujang, 고추장) and garlic as soup seasoning. It’s mild (maybe with very subtle spiciness, which I really didn’t notice) but nonetheless tasty, hearty and comforting. It’s my go to soup when I need a quick Korean food fix lately. I hope you like it too!

Ingredients for Korean Soybean Paste Soup (4 servings)Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) ingredients | MyKoreanKitchen.com

  • 1/2 large (145g, 5.1 ounces) zucchini (I used Korean zucchini (Aehobak, 애호박). I often find that a regular zucchini has a slightly bitter taste.) – thinly sliced and cut into quarter circles
  • 4 small (50g, 1.8 ounces) shiitake mushrooms -rinsed, stem removed and thinly sliced (You can use the stem when making the stock.)
  • 1 pack (200g, 7.1 ounces) enoki mushrooms – bottom 4-5 cm stem removed and rinsed briefly in cold running water
  • 1/2 small (35g, 1.2 ounces) brown onion – diced
  • 250g  (8.8 ounces) Korean tofu – medium firm – diced or cut into small rectangular pieces
  • Dried kelp and dried anchovy stock (Korean soup stock) – About 4 and 1/2 cup.
  • Soup seasoning sauce (mix these well in a small bowl)

*1 Tbsp= 15ml, 1 cup = 250ml

**If you want to learn more about Korean ingredients, check my 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients list!

How to Make Korean Soybean Paste Soup (Doenjang Guk)

1. Start boiling the dried kelp and dried anchovy stock (Korean style dashi) on high heat in a sauce pan. – It takes about 5 to 6 mins to rolling boil based on refrigerated stock. If you’re using freshly boiled stock, it takes 3 to 4 mins to rolling boil.

2. Soon after adding the stock into a sauce pan, sieve through the soup seasoning sauce so that it blends well with the stock. Once you sieve through, you will notice some large particles from the soybean paste in the sieve. I personally like having my soup clear, so I discard this. But if you like, you can add this back into the soup. Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com 3. Once the broth starts to rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the zucchini and the onion. Boil them for 2 to 3 mins. Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com 4. Add the tofu and boil for a further  1 to 2 mins. Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com 5. Add the shiitake mushroom and enoki mushrooms and boil for last the 1 to 2 mins. Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com 6. Turn the heat off and serve. Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Note

  • Typical Korean earthenware that are available for soup and stew are usually only enough for one to two servings. But since I cooked for 4 servings, I cooked everything in a sauce pan and transferred some to my earthenware for the photo shoot. Also please note that if you use earthenware to cook this soup, the boiling point might be faster than the sauce pan. It is also prone to overflow if you fail to adjust the heat quickly.
  • An alternative way to making the stock from scratch is you can buy the (healthy) powder version of stock and add it when boiling the water. In this case, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Just note that the taste of the soup might be different to mine.
  • I used a standard version (without extra added seasoning or flavour) of Korean soybean paste and Korean chili paste that are readily available from a Korean grocery store. If you use a homemade version (which tends to have a slightly stronger flavour and smell) or a varied version with extra spice and/or seasoning, the outcome of the soup will be different. If you’re using these kinds, I recommend using less than what my recipe calls for.
  • If you want this soup to be spicy, add some (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp) Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru, 고추가루) in your soup seasoning mix. You can also add some sliced Korean green or red chili just before you serve.


Authentic Korean soybean paste soup (Doenjang Guk) recipe - It's easy, delicious and comforting! | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean Soybean Paste Soup (Doenjang Guk)

How to Make Korean Soybean Paste Soup (Doenjang Guk)
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: doenjang, soybean paste
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 83kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen

Ingredients

Main

  • 1/2 large zucchini (145 g / 5.1 ounces), I used Korean zucchini (also known as summer squash). I often find that a regular zucchini has a slightly bitter taste. – thinly sliced and cut into quarter circles
  • 4 small shiitake mushrooms (50 g / 1.8 ounces), rinsed, stem removed and thinly sliced (You can use the stem when making the stock.)
  • 1 pack enoki mushrooms (200 g / 7.1 ounces), bottom 4-5 cm stem removed and rinsed briefly in cold running water
  • 1/2 small brown onion (35 g / 1.2 ounces), diced
  • 250 g Korean tofu (8.8 ounces), medium firm, diced or cut into small rectangular pieces
  • 4 1/2 cup Dried kelp and dried anchovy stock (Korean style dashi)

Soup seasoning sauce (mix these well in a small bowl)

Instructions

  • Start boiling the dried kelp and dried anchovy stock (Korean style dashi) on high heat in a sauce pan. – It takes about 5 to 6 mins to rolling boil based on refrigerated stock. If you’re using freshly boiled stock, it takes 3 to 4 mins to rolling boil.
  • Soon after adding the stock into a sauce pan, sieve through the soup seasoning sauce so that it blends well with the stock. Once you sieve through, you will notice some large particles from the soybean paste in the sieve. I personally like having my soup clear, so I discard this. But if you like, you can add this back into the soup.
  • Once the broth starts to rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the zucchini and the onion. Boil them for 2 to 3 mins.
  • Add the tofu and boil for a further 1 to 2 mins.
  • Add the shiitake mushroom and enoki mushrooms and boil for last the 1 to 2 mins.
  • Turn the heat off and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 509mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1.2mg
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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31 thoughts on “Korean Soybean Paste Soup (Doenjang Guk)”

  1. Hi Sue, Just wanted to let you know I finally got around to making this soup last night and it was so delicious! It has been very cold in Sydney, Australia so this soup was just perfect. My 21 month old also likes it! I just bought you Bachan Cookbook so I’m looking forward to trying the recipes from there too. Just a note if you could make any recommendations on what side dishes would go with what soups or main dishes…

    Thanks,
    Julia

    • Hi Julia,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe! It’s been so cold here in Brisbane as well. For us, we had some slow baked Korean BBQ ribs the other day. (https://mykoreankitchen.com/oven-baked-korean-bbq-beef-ribs/) Although it’s not a soupy dish, it was very comforting and so delicious (even if I say so myself. LOL)

      Thanks for purchasing my banchan cookbook as well. I hope you enjoy the recipes there too.
      When it comes to serving side dishes, I would recommend serving non-spicy side dishes with spicy soup (e.g. kimchi jjigae) and spicy meat and vice versa. (And conveniently, the book already segregated spicy side dishes and non-spicy side dishes.) There are no specific rules around it, but this combination compliments each other better in my opinion. Let me know if you have any further questions!

      • Hi Sue,

        Thanks for the speedy reply. Wow your beef ribs dish sounds delicious. Will give it a try soon.Thanks for the tip on what dishes to pair with what side dish. I will keep that’s in mind.

  2. Hi, is it okay if i don’t add the zucchini in the stew because i can’t find zucchini in my local supermarket.

    • Yes, that’s fine. You can simply omit zucchini and/or add other vegetables that go well in this soup (e.g. potatoes or Chinese cabbage – both thinly sliced). Enjoy!

  3. I made this recipe and I was so happy with how it turned out! It tasted just like the doenjang guk that I used to eat in Korea and it brought back fond memories of eating in my favorite kimbap jip. I added more salt to mine. I found the recipe really authentic to my memory as well as quick in prep and cook time. Thanks so much for sharing your cooking and cultural knowledge!

  4. Hi Sue,

    So I actually just accidentally picked up some Doenjang Paste thinking it was miso and I have no clue what to use it for. This is a good recipe that I am looking forward to trying, but what else can I use it for? I am not Asian and have never really had any experience cooking much Asian food. The smell of this is so pungent that it is kind of off putting.

      • Hi Sue! Thankyou for your fabulous site & recipes. Although I have made your Dashi broth, I was especially interested in the “healthier” version. Is the link from Amazon included in that category? Wondering what makes it healthier vs not as much. Thanks so very much! You are Amazing!

        • Hi Kristen, Personally, healthier version would be homemade ones from scratch as you can control the ingredients. Though, I’d like to think the above amazon link is a good alternative. Also, the linked products has more “other” ingredients, so it will give more complex flavor to the soup.

  5. Hi sue!! I struggled to find anchovies with no luck
    I did however find Anchovy Flavor Soup Stock Bags 8x10g bags. My problem is the bag is completely in Korean and I’m not sure how much water to use to make the broth or to boil vs simmer…and for how long. Your advice will be very helpful and appreciated!!! Thank you!

    • Holly, is the anchovy soup stock in a tea bag? If so, you use one whole tea bag per soup. As for the water quantity, the instruction will tell you. I know, you said it’s in Korean, but I’m just as blind as you are, as I don’t know what you bought.
      If the soup stock is not in a tea bag, then I typically add 1 to 2 tsp and season with the fine sea salt to taste. But again, the flavour strength varies depending on brands, so I can only advise you generally.

      • Good morning. Yes it’s the tea bag style. I believe each contains no more than 1 -2 tsp, so I’ll start with less water and add if to strong! Thanks for your reply! I have confidence to start now! I cannot wait to make this! Love all your recipes and I’ve made several of your banchan as well kimbap, pickled carrot and diakon, eggroll and the best…I’ve twice now made your kimchi! Veey proud of that. ; ) Yum all so good!

  6. Living in Korea I have had this soup a lot, but had no idea how to make it. Your site has helped me, as I took pictures to my local Lotte grocery and they had everything. I have now made this soup several times and even made it in my Instant pot and it tastes just like the soup from our local restaurant.
    My only problem has been my broth is a little cloudy even with straining the seasoning sauce, but it tastes delicious so I don’t mind.

  7. Hi Sue,
    We had dinner at our Korean friends house last week and they made this super yummy Korean meal that I am trying to replicate tomorrow…. 🙂 I went yesterday to a Korean grocery store to get all the ingredients (the pictures of the products on the website were really helpful) but missed the dried anchovy for the stock. Do you think I can make the stock only with dried kelp? Also, the soup that we had at our friends house was clear and contained only tofu and some green leaves (maybe baby spinach). Do you think that if I make the stock and add the seasoning, the tofu and the green leaves it might work? Thanks!
    BTW, your blog is awesome and I already made the glass noodles dish yesterday that came out beyond delicious!!

    • Hi Gil, Yes, you can make the stock with kelp only. The flavour won’t be as strong as the stock with both. (If anything, you can adjust the taste with some fine salt if necessary near the end.) Also you can add spinach and tofu instead of zucchini and others. That’s just a different variation of soybean soup. 🙂
      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my Japchae recipe. I hope you enjoy this soup as well!

  8. I’ve never tasted this lovely soup, but have heard os much about it… It would be perfect this week since we have a particularly nasty weather. It looks so simple but so delicious, like most Korean dishes. The more I’m interested in Korean cuisine, the more ignorant I feel 😉
    Congratulations for the BBQ ebook; I have only had a quick look, but it looks fascinating and really impressive. You must have worked really hard on it! I’m looking forward to making my own BBQ one day! thank you so much!

    • Thanks Sissi! I hope you enjoy reading my BBQ ebook and let me know if you have any questions. Even though I grew up with Korean food, I always feel ignorant! So considering that, you’re doing just fine. 🙂

    • Yes! Soup with homemade dashi is the best! It’s been cold here lately as well, so I think this will be at my table in no times. 🙂

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