Baechu Doenjang Guk (Soybean Paste Soup)

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Doenjang, fermented soybean paste, is a staple Korean condiment and used as a base for stew or soup. As with doenjang jjigae (stew version), doenjang guk (soup) is also one of the most representative Korean home cooked dishes. While the stew version is typically hearty, thick and pungent, the soup is light and mild and has more broth.
The doenjang based soup made with napa cabbage (baechu) especially popular during late fall when napa cabbages are abundant during kimjang season when Koreans make a large amount of kimchi for upcoming winter.

Korean home cooks usually save the water used to rinse rice, ssalddeummul, and use it for this soup. The rice water adds starch to the soup and works as a binding agent between the soybean paste and the broth, while enhancing the flavor of the doenjang.

I’d like to add a little bit of gochujang (Korean red/hot pepper paste) to this soup to bring out the flavor of the doenjang without overpowering it. If you have this classic soup along with a bowl of rice and some kimchi, you have a meal – very satisfying one!

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Baechu Doenjang Guk (Soybean Paste Soup with Napa Cabbage)

4.5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Print Recipe


  • 1/4 head medium size napa cabbage about 1 pound
  • 4 cups anchovy broth* or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Korean soybean paste doenjang
  • 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper paste gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce guk ganjang
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 scallions cut into 2 inch lengths
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Make anchovy broth by boiling, uncovered, about 12 medium size dried anchovies in 6 cups of water (or water used to rinse the rice) for 10 minutes. Fish out the anchovies and discard.
  • While the broth is being made, cut the cabbage into 2 to 3-inch pieces.
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  • Stir the soybean paste and red pepper paste in to the broth, or run them through a strainer in the broth. The latter process helps dissolve the pastes easier and catches any big chunks of beans remaining in the soy bean paste. Add the soup soy sauce to the broth.
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  • Add the cabbage, cover and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the cabbage becomes soft, 1o to 15 minutes. Add the scallions and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste.
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