Korean Cabbage Soup (Baechu Guk)

Korean Cabbage Soup (Baechu Guk)

The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
61 Calories
2g Fat
7g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 61
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1531mg 67%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 45mg 3%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 229mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Korean cabbage soup, also known as baechu guk, is not often found in restaurants but is a staple in Korean households. Healthy, low fat, and rich in nutrients and vitamins, baechu guk is Korean comfort food and is especially popular in the fall and winter months.

This soup is made with napa cabbage, a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines. Napa cabbage is an oblong-shaped, white to pale green cabbage that is easy to prepare and used in stir-fries, salads, noodle dishes, soups, and dumplings. This cabbage has a mild flavor that when cooking gets sweeter, this sweetness transports itself into the soup. Taking less than 30 minutes to prepare and get on the table, napa cabbage soup is made with only six ingredients—the napa cabbage, beef broth, doenjang (Korean soybean paste), garlic, scallions, and some black pepper—and cooked until the cabbage is tender. 

Serve this Korean cabbage soup with some rice and kimchi for a delicious lunch or dinner. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups beef broth

  • 4 tablespoons doenjang (Korean soybean paste)

  • 1 cup napa cabbage, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 scallions, chopped

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Korean Cabbage Soup (Baechu Guk) ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. In a large pot, add the beef broth and bring it to a simmer. Add the soybean paste (doenjang) and stir to dissolve.

    Add the soybean paste (daenjang) to the pot with beef broth

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. When it begins to boil, reduce to a simmer, and add cabbage and garlic.

    add cabbage and garlic to the sauce in the pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  4. Cook until cabbage is very tender, about 20 minutes.

    cabbage soup cooking in the pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  5. Turn off heat and add black pepper and chopped scallions.

    Korean Cabbage Soup (Baechu Guk) in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Tips

You can use store-bought beef broth for this cabbage soup if you don't have time to make your own.


Save the water that you used to rinse the rice and use the rice water for the soup. This is what Korean cooks typically do, and it adds another dimension of flavor to the soup.


Save a little bit of time in the preparation by chopping up the napa cabbage. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Recipe Variation

We like baechu guk very peppery, but you can replace the black pepper with red pepper powder (kochukaru) if you want that type of spiciness instead.


How to Store

Store any leftovers of this soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.


Korean cabbage soup can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to three months. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

What is doenjang?

Doenjang—pronounced DEN-jahng—is fermented soybean paste that is an essential ingredient in Korean cuisine. This seasoning is used in soups, stew, Ssamjang, relishes, and on meats and vegetables as a dipping sauce. It has a salty, earthy, umami taste.


You can find doenjang in many grocery stores, Asian markets, or online.

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