Soy Bean Sprout Soup for the Soul (콩나물국 Kongnamul Guk)

Soybean Sprout Soup (콩나물국 Kongnamul Guk)

Soybean Sprout Soup (콩나물국 Kongnamul Guk)

Wonderfully warm and light – this amazingly soothing soup is Koreans’ Chicken Soup for the soul. If you get a terrible cold, this soybean sprout soup is what mom will make for you – with extra red pepper flakes to chase the cold away. The non-spicy version of this Kongnamul Guk is also a perfect soup for children. Kids love the flavor and it also aids with their brain development. If you are suffering from a hangover, Kongnamul Guk is another fabulous soup (next to Bugeo Guk or Dried pollock soup) that will help your body get rid of the alcohol in your body.

For those interested, here’s the science behind it:

Amino acid asparagine – contained in the root end of soybean sprouts, research has shown that it helps healthy brain development in children. This amino acid also helps the liver get rid of acetaldehyde – a compound produced from partial oxidation of ethanol – which is known to contribute to hangovers.

Vitamin C – soybean sprouts contain large amount of vitamin C which is helps with immunity

In addition, Soybean sprouts are a good source of protein, B vitamin folate and fiber.

Making this soup is surprisingly simple and interestingly, kids love this soup! So, try making some for your little one!

Servings: 2-3            Time: 30 minutes                  Difficulty: Easy


  • 6 oz (170g) Soybean Sprouts (콩나물 Kongnamul) – add more or less, it’s OK
  • 15 dried large anchovies for stock (국멸치 Kookmyeolchi)
  • 1 piece of dried Kelp (다시마 Dashima) – approx 3 x 3 in
  • 4 C water
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp red chili pepper powder (고추가루 Gochukaroo)
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 2~3 T chopped green onions
  • 1 tsp or more fermented salted shrimp, chopped (새우젓 Saewoojeot) – OPTIONAL


  1. Make the fish stock. Add 4 C water to pot and add dried anchovies and kelp. Simmer for 15-20 min.
    Dried Anchovies and Kelp for stock

    Dried Anchovies and Kelp for stock

    Fish stock for soybean sprout soup

    Fish stock for soybean sprout soup

    If you have time, let it sit with heat turned off for 20 min. Extra time will make the broth even more richer and flavorful. Like so-

    Finished anchovy kelp fish stock

    Finished anchovy kelp fish stock

  2. Rinse soybean sprouts (kongnamul) and discard any black and spoiled pieces.
  3. Remove the kelp and anchovies from the fish stock. Add salt and soybean sprouts to pot. Cover and bring to boil.

    Sprouts in pot for Kongnamul Guk

    Sprouts in pot for Kongnamul Guk

  4. Boil COVERED on medium heat for 8 minutes. DO NOT open the cover until sprouts are fully cooked. Opening before it’s fully cooked will leave a fishy smell/taste to the soup so don’t do it!!! Be patient..
  5. Add garlic, green onions and red chili pepper powder. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust saltiness by adding more salt or optionally saewoojeot.
  6. And that’s all! Serve with some rice and other side dishes for a warm and soothing meal.

    Non-spicy Kongnamul Guk

    Non-spicy Kongnamul Guk – great for kids!


  • Anchovy stock – see My Tips page to make the anchovy stock ahead of time. There’s also a new type of dried fish that I recently discovered in Korea. These guys add even better flavor to the stock. It’s called Bendaengyi (밴댕이) or Dipori (디포리) and is referred to as Herengula Zunasi/Sardinella Zunasi or Japanese Sardinella. The fermented, salted form is called Bendaengyi jeot and is used in Kimjang Kimchi.
  • Soybean Sprouts – When buying sprouts, don’t go for the big, thick ones as they probably have fertilizers or chemicals in them. Buy thin, slender sprouts and go for organic or ones with no chemicals (무농약) if you can. Also, turn the bag over and see if there are any sprouts that have become mushy at the bottom of the bag. This means the sprouts are not as fresh as they should be.
    Fresh, best quality soybean sprouts (콩나물 Kongnamul)

    Fresh, best quality soybean sprouts (콩나물 Kongnamul)

    See how beautiful these sprouts are? Not a brown, yellow or blackish spot anywhere..

  • Root or no root? – People have different opinions about taking the root ends off of soybean sprouts. I personally stopped removing the root ends long time ago because I learned that the roots have a lot of nutrients in them. To be honest, it’s probably more because it was too time consuming. :)
  • Saewoojeot (새우젓) – add fermented, salted shrimp for extra flavor. Reduce amount of salt if you are going to finish the soup with this.
  • Use papertea bags for anchovies – fishing for anchovies from the stock can be a bit of a hassle so you can buy and use a paper bag (sold at Korean or Japanese stores) to keep the fishes while they are in the pot.

    anchovies in paper bag for stockanchovies in paper bag for stock

    anchovies in paper bag for stock



  1. Janet says

    Wow! Thank you! I’m referring to your site often now. Due to the rising cost of meat, there’s little room for errors now so I need to refer to my sources. Haha! I just had another baby so need to learn how to cook more. :)

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