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Korean Soup

Korean soup contains meat and seafood along with vegetables which are simmered with water. The soups are usually served as part of the main meal along with rice and other banchan which comprise of side dishes. The soup is kept to the right of the diner along with the stew bowls. Using a spoon to consume the soup is customary.

The main soups of Korea can be classified into two primary groups, guk and tang. The former is watery and served at homes while the tangs are available at the commercial eateries. Meat, shellfish and vegetables are the usual ingredients of the Korean soups.

The Jjigae is a thick soup that is akin to a stew. It is served as a side dish in special earthenware utensils. The ingredients of a Jjigae vary from season to season depending on the availability of vegetables. The soybean paste is, however, a common fixture of all Jjigae dishes.

Origin of Korean Soup Recipes

There are numerous evidences of soup being a favored dish during various periods of Korean history. The three kingdoms period which lasted from 57 BCE – 668 CE saw a rapid evolution of its culture which included the dietary evolution. Two different types of soups were usually served to the nobility and royal families during this period while the chogyetang, a vinegar laced chicken soup prepared with five different kinds of chickens was served a part of the royal banquet during the Joseon period. The king also preferred consuming Naengmyeon, a cold variant containing dongchimi or radish kimchi.

Soups with dog meat were introduced in the 19th century and was prepared by boiling scallions and dog meat together which was seasoned with chili powder.

The usage of beef as an important ingredient of soups became commonplace in the 20th century.

Korean Soup: Ingredients and Preparation Overview

The ingredients for preparing the Korean version of soup varies along with the recipe. Vegetables, meat, seafood and seaweed are the main ingredients, while pickles and relishes like the kimchi are often used to spice up the soup which is consumed as a broth. Kelp and dried anchovies are also used as traditional bases for preparing soups according to Korean recipes.

The ingredients are usually simmered together with sesame oil in a pan over a long period of time. The stock is used over and over again for preparing different dishes apart from soups. The meat, fish or the vegetables are usually salted before cooking and there is no additional salt used for seasoning it during the cooking process.

Korean Soup Recipes

  • Malgeunguk- This is a clear soup which may include previously boiled meat or fish in both the fresh as well as the dried form. Vegetables along with the Korean condiment called ganjang, a fermented soybean paste is used to flavor this soup.
  • Tojangguk- This is a seafood soup prepared with clams and dried anchovy paste, usually seasoned with a bean paste known as Doenjang.
  • Gomguk- It is known as a soup suitable for the peasants, this dish includes all parts of the beef including the bones , tail and intestines. The only seasoning for this soup is salt.
  • Naengguk- It is a cold soup which is seasoned lightly and consumed during the summer months.
  • Gaejang-guk- This is a dog meat soup prepared with spices.


The Korean soup prepared with seaweeds is considered to be beneficial for lactating mothers as it is believed to stimulate the production of breast milk.


"Korean Food Basics: What You Might Find On A Korean Food Menu" by Lisa Fritscher