Kongnamul-guk (콩나물국): Bean Sprout Soup

[Kongnamul: soybean sprout, Guk: soup]

Kongnamul-guk is one of my favorite Korean soups. This classic soup is clean and refreshing and is one of the easiest soups to make. It goes very well with any Korean meat or seafood dishes but especially with spicy dishes such as jaeyuk-bokeum (Korean spicy pork sauté). Koreans especially love this soup in the morning after a heavy night of drinking because soybean sprouts contain a high-level of aspartic acid (also found in asparagus), which is great for hangovers. Thus, my favorite soup! ^^


  • About 15 dried anchovies (myulchi, 멸치), head and black guts removed
  • About 1/8 cup dried baby shrimps (보리새우)
  • About 2” x 2” dried kelp (also called dashima or konbu, 다시마)
  • About 6 cups water
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 package of rinsed soybean sprouts (kongnamul, 콩나물), about 200g
  • 1/2 package of soft tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce, preferably Korean guk-ganjang (국간장)
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, finely diced
  • Pinch of salt, to taste

[You can find all the above ingredients in most Asian markets but also you can easily find them in the Asian sections in large supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market.]

  1. Heat an empty medium size pot on low heat.
  2. While the pot is heating, take off the dried anchovies’ heads and guts (it is a simple procedure although it sounds gruesome).
  3. Place the dried anchovies and shrimp in the empty pot for about a minute, shaking the pot a couple times so they do not burn. This is to get rid of any potential fishiness of the stock, but this step can be skipped if you are pressed for time.
  4. Pour cold water into the pot and raise the heat to high. Place the kelp in. Do not cover the pot with a lid (this also helps to get rid of possible fishiness of the stock).
  5. When the water starts boiling, take out the kelp.
  6. Boil the stock for another 10-15 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, rinse the bean sprouts with cold water and drain. Pick out any brown pieces. Cut the onion, tofu, red pepper and scallions according to the directions above.
  8. After the fish stock has brewed, take out all the anchovies and shrimp.*
  9. Add the diced onions and bean sprouts and cover with a lid immediately. Do not open the lid for at least 5 minutes.
  10. Add the garlic, cubed tofu and season the soup with soy sauce, fish sauce and a pinch of salt. Cook for about another 5 minutes.
  11. Add red peppers and scallions and cook for another minute or two. Add more salt to taste.

* Anchovy stock is the most commonly used soup base in Korean food. You can make a bulk of this and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

** If you have leftover kongnamul-guk, you can make follow my recipe for kongnamul-gukbap!

1 thought on “Kongnamul-guk (콩나물국): Bean Sprout Soup

  1. Pingback: Bausut, Dashima Gukmul (버섯, 다시마국물): Mushroom, Dashima Broth | Gangnam Kitchen

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