Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice

Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice is a delectable Korean dish that combines the rich flavors of fermented soybean paste, bok choy, and tofu. This traditional soup, commonly served with rice and various side dishes, offers a delightful combination of heat, savory notes, and an earthy essence. In this recipe, readers will find detailed instructions on making the soup stock from scratch, as well as tips for incorporating additional ingredients according to personal preference. To enhance the dining experience, it is suggested to serve this hearty soup alongside flavorful side dishes like kimchi or sautéed vegetables, accompanied by a steaming bowl of warm rice. Prepare to indulge in the comforting and satisfying flavors of this beloved Korean staple.

Stock preparation

Doenjangguk, a traditional Korean soup made with fermented soybean paste called doenjang, is a hot, savory, and earthy dish that is perfect for a comforting meal. Before diving into the recipe, it is important to prepare the anchovy and kelp stock, which serves as the flavorful base for the soup.

Making the anchovy and kelp stock

To create the stock, start by rinsing 5 to 7 dried anchovies under cold water to remove any excess salt. Then, remove the anchovy heads and guts. Next, take a piece of dried kelp and wipe it gently with a damp cloth to remove any debris. Place the anchovies and kelp in a pot with 6 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. After simmering, strain the stock and discard the anchovies and kelp. This flavorful stock will form the foundation of the doenjangguk.

Soup base

The soup base of doenjangguk consists of a doenjang mixture and various other ingredients that contribute to the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Preparing the doenjang mixture

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of doenjang paste with 2 teaspoons of gochu-garu, a Korean red chili pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix well until the ingredients are fully incorporated. This doenjang mixture will add depth and complexity to the soup.

Adding the soup base ingredients

In a separate pot, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. Add 1 sliced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves, sautéing until fragrant and the onion becomes translucent. Then, add the prepared doenjang mixture to the pot and stir it into the onion and garlic mixture. This step will allow the flavors to marry and develop.

Simmering the soup base

To complete the soup base, add 6 cups of the anchovy and kelp stock prepared earlier to the pot. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and reduce the heat to low. Allow the soup base to simmer for 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice

This image is property of

Vegetables and tofu

While the soup base simmers, it’s time to prepare the vegetables and tofu that will be added to the doenjangguk.

Preparing the bok choy

Wash 4 baby bok choy thoroughly and cut off the root ends. Separate the leaves and trim away any wilted or damaged parts. Bok choy is an excellent vegetable choice for doenjangguk due to its tender leaves and crisp stalks.

Cutting the tofu

Drain a block of soft tofu and cut it into bite-sized cubes. Tofu serves as a protein source and adds a creamy texture to the soup. Be gentle when handling the tofu to prevent it from breaking apart.

Combining the ingredients

With the soup base simmering and the vegetables and tofu prepared, it is time to bring all the components together to create a delicious bowl of doenjangguk.

Adding the vegetables to the soup

Carefully add the prepared bok choy leaves to the simmering soup base. Allow them to cook for about 2 minutes until they become wilted and tender. The addition of bok choy gives the soup a vibrant pop of green and adds a refreshing crunch.

Adding the tofu to the soup

Finally, gently place the tofu cubes into the soup. Be cautious not to stir vigorously, as it may cause the tofu to disintegrate. Allow the tofu to heat through for about 3 minutes, ensuring it becomes infused with the flavors of the doenjangguk.

Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice

This image is property of

Seasoning and finishing touches

To achieve a well-balanced and flavorful doenjangguk, it is crucial to adjust the seasoning and add garnishes to add depth and visual appeal to the soup.

Adjusting the seasoning

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning to personal preference. This can be done by adding more doenjang paste for a stronger umami flavor or adjusting the spiciness by incorporating additional gochu-garu. A pinch of salt or soy sauce can also be added if necessary.

Adding garnishes

To enhance the presentation and the flavor, consider adding a few garnishes to the finished soup. Thinly slice some green onions and sprinkle them on top of the soup. This not only adds a pop of color but also adds a subtle onion flavor. Additionally, a drizzle of sesame oil can be added to further enhance the nuttiness and aroma of the dish.

Serving suggestion

To fully enjoy the flavors of the doenjangguk, it is recommended to pair the soup with some side dishes and warm rice.

Pairing with side dishes

In Korean cuisine, side dishes, or “banchan,” are an essential part of the dining experience. Popular side dishes that complement doenjangguk include kimchi, sautéed vegetables, pickled radishes, and marinated tofu. These side dishes add variety to the meal and provide contrasting textures and flavors.

Serving with warm rice

Doenjangguk is traditionally served with a bowl of warm rice. The combination of the hot soup, savory doenjang flavors, and fluffy rice creates a satisfying and comforting meal. The rice helps to balance the flavors of the soup and provides a hearty element to the dish.

Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice

This image is property of

Tips and variations

While the traditional recipe for doenjangguk involves certain ingredients and flavors, there are several ways to customize the soup to suit individual preferences.

Ingredient substitutions

Feel free to experiment with different vegetables and protein sources when preparing the doenjangguk. Instead of bok choy, spinach or kale can be used. For those seeking a heartier option, sliced mushrooms or thinly sliced beef can be added as well.

Adjusting the spiciness

Doenjangguk can be tailored to personal spice preferences. If a spicier soup is desired, increase the amount of gochu-garu in the doenjang mixture or add some Korean red chili paste, also known as gochujang.

Adding additional flavors

To further enhance the flavors of the doenjangguk, consider incorporating additional ingredients such as minced ginger or a splash of soy sauce. These additions can elevate the complexity of the soup and provide even more depth of flavor.

Storage and reheating

If there are any leftovers of the doenjangguk, proper storage methods are essential to preserve its freshness and flavor.

Proper storage methods

Allow the soup to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To maintain the soup’s quality, it is recommended to store the soup and the rice separately.

Reheating the soup

To reheat the doenjangguk, simply transfer the desired portion to a saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat until it is warmed through. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent any sticking or burning at the bottom of the pan.

Hot and Earthy Doenjangguk Soup with Tofu and Rice

This image is property of

Health benefits

Apart from its rich and satisfying flavors, doenjangguk also offers several health benefits.

Nutritional value of doenjang soup

Doenjang, the fermented soybean paste used in the soup, is a great source of protein, fiber, and essential amino acids. Additionally, it contains nutrients such as calcium, iron, and beneficial bacteria that support gut health.

Promoting gut health

Fermented foods like doenjang have been shown to promote a healthy gut due to the presence of probiotics. These live bacteria cultures aid in digestion, support a strong immune system, and contribute to overall gut health.


Doenjangguk, a traditional Korean soup made with fermented soybean paste, is a delicious and nutritious dish that can be enjoyed as a standalone meal or as part of a larger spread. By following the steps outlined in this recipe, you can create a flavorful and satisfying bowl of doenjangguk that will keep you warm and nourished. So gather your ingredients, prepare the stock, simmer the soup base, add the vegetables and tofu, season to taste, and enjoy a taste of Korea in every spoonful.

Read more informations