Miso Soup the Korean way – Doenjang

Doenjang with rice and kimchi

You’re probably most familiar with miso soup from sushi restaurants that serve up a small bowl of the delicious soup before you indulge in sushi, but miso and miso soup (which is fermented soybean paste) plays a big part in Korean cuisine as well. Koreans call their miso soup “doenjang” (pronounced den-johng), and it’s a true nutritional powerhouse. When I was a kid, my mom made doenjang miso soup almost every morning for breakfast, because it’s incredibly nutritious and healthy. It’s much bolder than Japanese miso, kind of like the difference between ketchup and a bold barbecue sauce, although both miso soups retain all the wonderful health benefits of the fermented soybeans. 

Ingredients for doenjang

The ingredients you’ll need for doenjang can vary, but this time around I went with:

  • Doenjang paste (2 TBS)
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Half a small yellow onion
  • Green onions, chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
  • Tofu
  • Cucumbers or Zucchini
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • red pepper powder (optional)
  • 3 oz. pork belly (optional)
  • water (3 cups or so)

Feel free to use chicken broth, or anchovy broth if you’re really ambitious, but since I was feeling lazy I went with a few pieces of pork belly I had leftover from the night before to flavor the broth.

Chop the onions into small pieces, slice the zucchini, and mince the garlic as well.

If you have one of these awesome Korean clay pots, it’ll be a lot more enjoyable, but any pot’ll work. A small cast-iron dutch oven would work great as well. Stir fry the pork belly with a tablespoon of oil until browned.

Add the minced garlic for the aromatic element.

Then add the water, the doenjang paste, the tofu, the cucumbers and the onions. Bring to a boil and let it stay there for about five minutes.

Once you have a healthy rolling boil, add the enoki mushrooms and the green onions. At this point, you’re about two minutes away.

Serve piping hot, with a bowl of rice and a side of kimchi.

Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Miso Soup the Korean way – Doenjang

  1. I make miso fairly often because it is so easy and quick. I just use
    dashi miso paste and add tofu+seaweed and sometimes dried mushrooms. The
    one issue is that miso paste has very high sodium so I end up making
    lighter broths. Is doenjang high in sodium as well?

    • You’re absolutely right, miso is fairly high in sodium and doenjang is as well – the latest container we bought has 618 mg of sodium per 1 TBS serving or about 26% of your daily recommended intake. It’s certainly on the high side compared to other health foods, but not so high that it should cause anyone a problem, outside of older people with higher blood pressure. 

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