What is Korean Soup?

Korean soups are definitely one of the most notable dishes of Korean cuisine. Soups and stews serve as an important feature within the Korean diet as beef was a scarce resource in the historic period. Soups or stews were always served in every meal because it requires less ingredients and is easy to create. 

What types of Korean soup are there?

There are different types of Korean soups and stews you need to try: jjigae, tang, guk, and jeongol.

Stews (jjigae)

Serena L. Yelp

Stews, known as jjigae, are cooked quickly with different ingredients. Most often, it includes any meat, seafood, or vegetables and topped with tofu within a broth that is either seasoned with red pepper paste (gochujang) or soybean paste (deonjang). They are known to be a bit more saltier since it is oftentimes cooked in a smaller batch that is concentrated seasoning. Jjigae is the best when eaten with rice and meat, the most popular palate cleanser at Korean BBQ.

The most popular stew would be kimchi stew, usually either just made with only kimchi or it can also include meat. Kimchi stew is the most commonly known stew that is extremely delicious at Korean BBQ. Another well-loved stew would be soondubu or tofu stew, where the stew is full of soft tofu along with other condiments. It usually is a fan favorite to eat during the cold night or after a long day of drinking. Korean army stew, aka budae jjigae, can be enjoyed with friends and family as it is a spicy broth made with meat, sausage, spam, and more. It can be shared with at least 2-3 people.

Soup (tang)

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Soups, known as tang, are brothy and cooked for hours or sometimes days, depending on the boiling process. It usually has more broth than meat or vegetables, as it solely focuses on cleansing your body with hot soup. Soups are usually served bland or slightly seasoned so you can adjust the saltiness level with adding more salt later. The water and the meat or meat is usually boiled together when first crafted, so the soup is extremely nutritious. 

Beef bone soup, also known as sullungtang, is made from ox bones, brisket, and other meat cuts. You usually season it at the table since it is mostly bland when served, and sullangtang is an all-time favorite. Galbi-tang is usually known as beef rib soup, and they are made with beef, radish, onions, and other ingredients.

Soup (guk)

Serious Eats

Soup can also be known as guk, which is usually grouped together. Tang is known to be less watery than guk, but they both serve to taste the best with rice and other side dishes. Guk is served in individual portions with a bowl of rice every time. No other seasoning or condiment is needed after it’s served. 

Most popular type of guk would be seaweed soup (miyeok-guk), where you can eat it any day but it is especially served on your birthday as it serves as an honor towards childbearing where mothers bring babies into the earth with love and sacrifice. Another popular guk would be radish soup (moo-guk), which is served with radish, beef, and green onions. It is simple yet extremely delicious and refreshing. 

Hot Pot (Jeongol)

Angel C. Yelp

Korean hot pot, known as jeongol, is a dish with meat, mushrooms, seafood, seasoning into a big stew pot with adding broth. After boiling it, it tends to be the perfect size to share among a group of 3-4 people. Jeongol is less soupy than guk but it is saltier than jiggae, which is similar to hot pot. Jeongol dishes that are the most popular would either be kimchi or dumplings. 

Jeongol is usually saltier than other types of soup, and you can order it with friends as it is the perfect size to share. The most popular types of jeongol would either be kimchi or dumpling as they compliment the broth well. You can also enjoy a nice hearty bowl of rice as it is best eaten with jeongol along with other side dishes. 

The examples of soups listed are not the only ones listed. There are amazing soups that you need to try as they are important dishes within Korean culture. They are also great sources of soup to eat whenever you feel sick or hungover the next day. 

Why Korean soup?

In comparison, American soups also vary in thick or watery broth just like Korean soups. However, Korean soups have the option to stay bland before you decide to add some salt into the broth when served. A lot of American soups are already seasoned and can be salty when served. 

Korean soups are perfect to eat alongside rice whereas American soups are perfect to eat with bread on the side. They have their own benefits, but Korean soups focus more on replenishing yourself after a long hard day of work or drinking. It is the perfect way to relieve yourself after a hard night of being hungover.

Here are some videos where non-Koreans also love eating Korean soup because it’s nutritious, delicious, and definitely worth trying if you are new. 

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