Spinach can be found all year-round, but spring spinach is terrific! This spinach deonjang guk is a popular spring soup in Korea. Commonly made in a clam-based broth, the soup is light and refreshing! Use a small amount of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) not to overpower the sweetness of the spinach and the mild briny flavor of the clams. I like to add kongnamul (soybean sprouts), as my mother does, because it adds texture to the soup, but it can be omitted. By now, you know to save the water used to rinse the rice if you’re making a soup or stew with doenjang. The starch water works as a binding agent between the soybean paste and the broth. It also enhances the doenjang flavor. Next time you go to the market, don’t forget to get some fresh spinach. This soup is excellent for a springtime Korean meal!
1/2 pound any small variety of clams (Manila, little neck clams)
1 bunch fresh spinach, about 10 ounces
8 ounces soybean sprouts (kongnamul)
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper
Rinse and scrub the clams. Place the clams in salted water (1 tablespoon of salt in 2 to 3 cups of water) for 30 minutes or longer to get the clams to spit out the sand.
Trim off the roots from the spinach. Wash thoroughly until there is no more sand in the water. Drain. If your spinach is long, you can cut them in half. Rinse the soybean sprouts a couple of times, discarding any floating skins. Drain. Clean and roughly chop the scallions.
In a large pot, stir the soybean paste in to 6 cups of water (preferably the water used to rinse the rice). Bring it to a boil over high heat.
Add the clams, beansprouts and garlic. Boil until clams open and the beansprouts are cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Throw in the spinach and scallions, and cook until wilted for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.