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Spinach Soybean Paste Soup, Shigeumchi Doenjang Guk
시금치 된장국

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Average: 1 (1 vote)
kid friendly
prep time: 
10 min
inactive time: 
0 min
cooking time: 
30 min
total time: 
40 min

How about a delectable and healthy soup this evening? Spinach soybean paste soup (Si-geum-chi Doenjang-guk) has been a popular dish on the Korean dinner table for many years. It's very simple to make, and it's nutritious. Compared to doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew), it's lighter in consistency and taste. It can pretty much complement anything.

There are many variations to this dish which feature other Korean greens, cabbages and mushrooms instead of spinach.

You can buy doenjang (soybean paste) online here.

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7 ozSpinach 시금치
6 cupsWater 물
20 Anchovy (dried) 멸치
1 piece(s)Kelp (dried, 2" X 2" or 5 cm x 5 cm) 다시마 (optional)
1 tbsGarlic (minced) 다진 마늘
Green Onion 파
2 tbsSoybean paste (Doenjang) 된장
1 tspGochugaru, Korean Hot Pepper Flakes 고추가루 (optional)
1 tspSoy Sauce for Soup (Gukganjang) 국간장 (optional, add salt instead)
¼ tspSalt 소금

Good to Know
Amount and types of doenjang
While doenjang is similar to Japanese miso, using Korean doenjang is highly recommended for an authentic Korean taste.

The color and saltiness of doenjang (soy bean paste) can vary depending on the brand. So, you may want to add more or less doenjang depending on the brand you use. It also depends on your personal preference. If you like a stronger doenjang flavor, you can add more doenjang and not use soy sauce for soup or salt.

Using a sifter when adding doenjang
In general, Koreans prefer not having soy bean bits in soup ("guk"), whereas they like them in stew ("jjigae"). Using a sifter allows only the subtle flavor and color of doenjang to accentuate the soup. However, you don't have to use a sifter if you prefer having soy bean bits in your soup.

What is the difference between Korean guk (soup) and Korean jjigae (stew)?
Korean stews are supposed to be a salty dish you eat little by little with rice. It's usually placed in the middle of the table and shared with a few people. Korean soups are more of an individual dish that is less salty and usually served in larger portions and in individual bowls.

For doenjang guk (soup), add doenjang until the broth is just slightly brown in color, then season with soy sauce (for soup) and salt. For doenjang jjigae (stew), only doenjang is used to season the soup because you want to have a thicker consistency and a stronger doenjang flavor.

Optional Ingredients and Substitutions
Kelp is optional.
Gochugaru, red chili flakes is optional.
Soy sauce for soup, gukganjang is optional. You can use salt for seasoning instead.
Anchovy broth is most ideal for classic spinach doenjang guk. There is a variation which is made with beef bone broth.

Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.

1. Make Broth

Boil 6 cups of water. Add about 15-20 heads of anchovy in a anchovy mesh net and 1 piece of 2” X 2” (5cm x 5cm) kelp (kelp is optional) into boiling water. Let it boil with a lid on medium heat for 15 min. Remove anchovies and kelp from the broth.

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Boil 6 cups water


  • 15-20 heads anchovy
  • 1 piece kelp (2” X 2” or 5cm x 5cm)

Boil Med Heat image: medheat.png image: clock.png 15 min

with lid

2. Prepare Spinach

While making broth, prepare spinach. Cut off the root ends of the spinach with scissors. Wash it thoroughly under running water.

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Cut root ends

Wash thoroughly

3. Blanch spinach

Boil 4 cups of water on high heat. Add spinach in boiling water and leave on high heat until the leaves die down (for 30 seconds to 1 min).

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Boil 4 cups water High Heat image: highheat.png

Blanch in boiling water image: clock.png 1 min

4. Rinse

Immediately rinse spinach in cold water. Remove excess water by squeezing lightly with your hand.

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Rinse in cold water

Squeeze water out

5. Prepare Green Onion

Cut off the root ends and wash them thoroughly. Cut them diagonally into 1½ inch pieces.

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Cut off root end

Wash thoroughly

Cut into 1½” diagonally

6. Season

Dissolve 1½ tablespoons of doenjang (soybean paste) into the broth by rubbing over a sifter. You may add a bit less or more doenjang depending on the brand. Aim for a light brown colored broth. Add 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional) and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. Let it boil for 4 min on medium heat with a lid.

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Dissolve with sifter

  • 1½ tbs soybean paste
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tbs minced garlic

Boil Med Heat image: medheat.png image: clock.png 4 min

with lid

7. Add Spinach

Add the blanched spinach and cut green onions. Add 1 teaspoon of gukganjang (soy sauce for soup) - optional. Boil with a lid on medium heat for 10 min. Skim off foam if there is any.

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  • blanched spinach
  • green onion

Add 1 tsp gukganjang (optional)

Boil Med Heat image: medheat.png image: clock.png 10 min

8. Finish

Taste it. Add salt only if needed. Serve with rice. Enjoy!

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