7 Korean Soups to See You Through Winter
It’s cold outside. A good soup helps.
As anyone living here will have noticed, Korea loves its soups. Most Korean meals come with at least one kind of soup included in their banchan (side dishes). Whether its seaweed soup with a simple lunch of kimchi and rice, a dwaenjang or kimchi jiggae alongside cooked meat, or one of many other ‘guks’ – rarely will a Korean family eat a meal without a soup with which to wash it all down. A good, fairly comprehensive list of Korean soups and stews can be found here, while an explanation of the difference between ‘guk’, ‘tang’ and ‘jiggae’ is here.
But what are the best Korean soups to try this winter? Fun to make, great to share, and perfect to warm you up on a freezing day, here are Gastro Tour Seoul’s top Korean-soup winter picks!
Gomtang (곰탕) – Oxtail Soup
Sometimes also known as ‘Gomguk’, Gomtang is hearty, healthy soup which sees various types of beef boiled over time for a maximum meaty flavor. Beef brisket, oxtail, bones, tripe and entrails simmer together to create a fantastic, heartwarming broth, which is then served with chopped green onions, rice, kimchi, and salt and pepper to taste. Many people also choose to add red pepper paste to their Gomtang to give it an extra kick. Yum!
A popular cure for hangovers, Yukgaejang is a thicker stew-like soup, jam-packed with beef and vegetables. The soup’s spicyness certainly helps with blocked noses, while the high liquid content helps rehydrate while recovering from a cold (or heavy night out!). Yukgaejang commonly includes beef brisket, scallions, kimchi, kosari, onion, bean sprouts, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper, and more. Own a slow cooker? Why not try making it yourself!
Kongnamulguk (콩나물국) Soybean Sprout Soup
Mild, healthy, and refreshing, Kongnamulguk is a popular choice among Koreans wanting a quick and inexpensive meal. Many restaurants will serve their Kongnamulguk with a raw egg, which is then cracked into the still-simmering soup. Other side dishes common with this soup are kim (dried seaweed), kimchi, spiced radish, and rice. Although restaurant-made Kongnamulguk is usually made with anchovy broth, vegetarians wanting to make this at home can use plain water instead!
Samgyetang (삼계탕) Whole Chicken Soup
The king of chicken soups! Samgyetang sees a whole (yet small) chicken boiled in broth and stuffed with sticky rice, ginseng, jujube, pine nuts, chestnuts, and garlic, and served with kimchi and spiced radish. Although traditionally a summer dish (oriental medicine dictates that chicken helps cool the body) Samgyetang is also the perfect pick-me-up during those coldest winter months. The added ginseng is also notorious for being an energizer, and great for boosting immune system and health. Delicious and nutritious – what more could you need in a soup?
Doganitang (도가니탕) Ox Knee Bone Soup
The second beef based soup on this list, Doganitang, gains its flavor from beef gelatin found in slow cooked beef knee joints. A little similar in taste to Seolleongtang, Doganitang is very rich in calcium, and so often given to young children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Anyone can treat themselves, however, when they need a meaty meal! Learn how to make your own Doganitang heregfde9fd8r.
Honghaptang (홍합탕) Mussel Soup
A seafood lover’s favorite; Honghaptang, or mussel soup, is one of the simplest Korean soups there are. Mussels are simmered in a spicy, hearty broth of water, garlic, peppers, onion and black pepper, for a straightforward yet delicious meal. Honghaptang is also traditionally thought to be good for female health. So now you know!
Dwaeji Gukbap (돼지국밥) Pork and Rice Soup
The Busan specialty, Dwaeji-gukbap uses pork bones to produce a delicious, meaty broth. The ‘bap’ on the end of ‘guk’ literally means rice; the soup is served with a portion of rice which you can eat separately, or mix into the soup for a porridge-like consistency. The soup is so popular in Busan that there is even an entire street named after it, which is full of popular Dwaeji-Gukbap restaurants. Be sure not to miss out if you ever find yourself down south!
Honorable mentions also go to Seolleongtang, Naejangtang (fish innards soup), and good old Budae Jiggae – all also guaranteed to heat you up from the inside out! Which other soups would you recommend this season?