Korean Food: Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae) for #SundaySupper


Isn’t it so true that we miss things more once they are gone? I feel like this can be applied to both people and things or, in this case, food.


Many of you know I used to live in Los Angeles. I lived there for over 11 years. In 2001, when my brother and I moved there, we immediately became enamoured with the weather, beaches and . .  K-town (Korea town).  We shared an apartment within walking distance to Manhattan Beach, where my brother learned how to surf and I was able to pick up running again. Nothing like running along the beach next to the water. Perfect and freeing. I loved it.


And Korea town. Oh K-town. Not only were we taken with the food, like seriously delicious Korean food on every corner (actually more like 10 awesome Korean restaurants lined up next to each other on every block) but there was the K-town Galleria which had an awesome food court (think: the food court in the mall but only Korean food) and then there was the nightlife. The clubs, yo.


Don’t even ask me how the clubs work now (insert “bookings” here. my Korean homies will know what this means). I have no idea. But we did frequent them (or I tagged along with my older brother and his friends) quite a bit after we moved to LA. After the shiny, newness of it all wore off, we still went to K-town for food (obviously) and patbingsu and anytime we had out-of-town guests or family in town.


I love that we were always minutes away from any kind of Korean food we were craving. Did we go there all the time? No. But it was comforting to know we could if we wanted to. And even after I got married and moved to the valley, about 20-25 miles north of LA. It was still comforting to know we had a Korean market close by and our go-to Korean restaurant for dduk bo ssam, Shik Do Rak. Freaking loved this place. And it was the only good Korean place close to us.


And if we ever wanted Soondubu Jjigae, we would make the trek to K-town and hit up So Kong Dong or BCD Tofu House (which is like everywhere in LA). Now that we live here in WA, good Korean food, or so I’m told, is either in Lynnwood or Federal Way, both are about 40-50+ minutes away. So, I’m making it at home yo.


If you like Korean food, you’ve probably had this soup before. I love it so much because of the tofu and veggies and it’s just so comforting. There’s something about spicy, hot soup that just makes me feel better and literally warms my body and heart.  My husband is so thrilled now because I am cooking more Korean food at home. I love it too. .  I’m learning and our girls are getting exposed to more Korean food everyday. My 5 year old, Phoebe, actually ate this too- which shocked the hell out of me. But I made a spicy and non-spicy version in hopes that she would at least try it. She ate the entire bowl. Again, warm heart for me.




There are a few ways to make the soup base/stock for Soondubu jjigae. Many people use dried anchovies and dried kelp to create the soup. After talking with my mom and brainstorming a little, my mom and I came up with this.  I hope you enjoy. And no dismembering of dried anchovies is involved. Don’t get me wrong. This creates an awesome soup stock too!


Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae)
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


For a non-spicy version, just omit the gochugaru.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: 4

  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup of pork (pork shoulder or pork loin (whatever you have, thinly sliced)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 to 1½ cups ripe kimchi, chopped (with kimchi juice)
  • 1-2 tablespoons red pepper powder (gochugaru); optional. Use this if you want your soup spicy.
  • 1 cup vegetable, mushroom or beef stock
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2-3 packages soft tofu; depending on how much tofu you want
  • 2 medium sized zucchini, chopped and cut in half
  • 1 cup fresh cremini, baby portobello or shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 -3 scallions, sliced + more for garnish; diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce; to taste

  1. In a soup pot, over high heat, add the sesame oil. After a few minutes so the pot can get hot, add the pork, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until all sides are browned. Add the garlic, onion, kimchi and gochugaru (if using). Mix well and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable or beef stock and water to the pot. You want to add enough liquid to cover your pork and then some. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the soft tofu, zucchini, mushrooms and scallions and turn the heat up to medium-high; season with the soy sauce. Taste and add more soy sauce if needed. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Serve and garnish with more diced scallions if desired.

For a more traditional way of making Soondubu Jjigae, check out Maangchi’s post.




Sunday Supper

Today, we are bringing all kinds of soup to the table! I don’t know about you but I always love having soup recipes on hand.  Check out all of these amazing soups from our Sunday Supper Family:


Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)


Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)


Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)


Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)


Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)


Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)


Once you have seen all of the recipes for the day, you won’t want to miss our  #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each SundayWe tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special soup recipes! Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun.


Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Don’t forget to check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite soup, stew, chowder or bisque recipes with us!





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63 Responses to "Korean Food: Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae) for #SundaySupper"

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  3. Jen @JuanitasCocina

    February 24, 2013 at 6:31 am

    This is GORGEOUS! And I love the flavors!

  4. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers

    February 24, 2013 at 6:47 am

    I never thought of tofu in soup, but after looking at your photos, I want to try it!!!

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      This soup is seriously a Korean food staple. For this one, it has to be soft tofu. . but yes, it’s delicious!

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  7. Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom)

    February 24, 2013 at 7:12 am

    yoooooo….this looks so awesome! i’ve eaten in LA’s K-Town, but frankly, I don’t remember much. (ahem) Let’s just say that the next time I eat there, I want to be in a sober state. I’ve been to one club there and it’s hardcore. HARD.CORE.

    anyway, now i’m craving this shiznit…thanks homie (i’ve been reading too much EJL lately…)!

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 25, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      haha, girl, you crack me up! I think K-town holds many moments like that for MANY people! :)

  8. Shannon @VillageGirlBlog

    February 24, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Oooo, I love a spicy soup. this looks sooo tasty! Yum

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  14. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts

    February 24, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I have almost no experience with Korean food. I really need to make more of your recipes, because they all look so comforting, and delicious!

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 25, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      Thank you, Erin! Korean food can be intimidating if you’ve never made it at home. . I say, start with Korean food at restaurants and if you like it, try re-creating some of the dishes you like at home. But I love that Korean food is gaining more and more popularity and familiarity among people! :)

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  17. Tara

    February 24, 2013 at 9:31 am

    What an amazing looking soup. I adore so many of those ingredients!! Lovely photos too!!

  18. REMCooks

    February 24, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Hi, Alice. Funny you should post this dish. Baby Lady & I love tofu. Just last Monday she e-mailed me a recipe for this very soup! We were going to make it this weekend but got a call from a friend who wanted to take us out for dinner instead. This is very similar to the other recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 24, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Oh, I love hearing that Richard! Most soon dubu recipes use the dried anchovies and kelp so I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I’d get from this recipe. . but it tasted fantastic! Whether you try this one or the other one, Please let me know how you like it!

  19. Amanda @ MarocMama

    February 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Looks very tasty! Cooking with tofu is a challenge for me – this looks really do able though!

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 24, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Amanda, thank you! Cooking with soft tofu is incredibly easy b/c with this, all you have to do is literally squeeze the soft tofu tubes into the soup! Hope you give this one a try!

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  21. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    February 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I don´t particularly like tofu, but this soup looks fantastic Alice! I do want to dive into it. I should go to the asian market and see if I can find kimchi, not our usual supermarket staple here. Have a great day!

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  23. Hezzi-D

    February 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I really like that you used tofu in this soup. Other then hot and sour soup I don’t know of any that have it in there. I am a big fan of tofu and the flavors in this soup sound wonderful.

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      If you go to a lot of Japanese restaurants, they put tofu in miso soup too! Some restaurants skimp though and just add a little. . but it’s there! :)

  24. YinMom YangMom Allie

    February 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

    great post! i want that soup next time i have a sniffle… if not sooner! loved hearing about your time in k-town, too…

  25. DB-The Foodie Stuntman

    February 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    This sounds delicious!

  26. Lane @ Supper for a Steal

    February 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I have to admit I don’t think I have ever had Korean food, I wouldn’t even know anywhere to get it around here, but my brother in law is living over in South Korea right now and always posting pictures of the delicious food he is eating. I don’t know if he will ever move back he loves it so much. All of the ingredients look fairly easy to find so I will definitely be trying this soon.

    • hipfoodiemom

      February 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Hi Lane!
      If there is a Korean market close to you, there should be a Korean restaurant or 2. Ask someone at the Korean market. If you like spicy food or Korean BBQ, you’ll love it! I hope you are able to try it someday!

  27. Conni @FoodieArmyWife

    February 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    What a gorgeous bowl of soup. Those bowls are so pretty, too!

  28. Susan

    February 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    The flavors and the colors in this soup are just outstanding!

  29. cindy

    February 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    My daughter would love this!

  30. Bea

    February 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I want to eat at your house :) This looks like an amazing soup!

    I know how you feel about the comfort of having Korean food close by; that is how I feel about German food. There is a certain sense of comfort in knowing that you can get the foods you grew up with close by :) – I am not very familiar with Korean food, but we do have quite a few Korean restaurants in PDX as well :)

  31. Sarah Reid, RHNC (@jo_jo_ba)

    February 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Never thought to use soft tofu insoup!

  32. Jennie @themessybakerblog

    February 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I love this soup, yo! Seriously, it looks amazing, Alice.

  33. Family Foodie

    February 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I recently tried Korean food and was immediately in love…. looking forward to trying this beautiful recipe!

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  35. Heather @girlichef

    February 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I love the emotion that food can invoke! This soup sounds amazing…I love the combination of flavors. I really wish that I had access to Korean food in my area. I know I could make it…but you know, I’d love to go the “easy” route. Beautiful!

  36. Laura | Small Wallet, Big Appetite

    February 28, 2013 at 3:44 am

    Seriously I need to come over and eat at your house. The closest good Korean food we have is in London and we don’t make it over there much. I might have to give this recipe a try.

  37. katie

    February 28, 2013 at 4:13 am

    yum! this sounds amazing! I have fond memories of visiting Manhattan Beach as a kid with my family. Never had a chance to visit K-town. Must do that during my next trip to LA!

  38. The Wimpy Vegetarian

    February 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    This looks so packed full of flavor, and I love your photos Alice!! Really a beautiful soup.

  39. Stacy

    February 28, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    How did I miss visiting your soup?! I love spicy and this soup looks divine! I’ve taught myself to make all kinds of dishes when I have the craving and am living somewhere they are not available so I completely understand.

  40. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    March 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Awwww you just made me miss LA, especially K-Town. I often visit there on weekends, at least once a month. And yes to Shik Do Rak, that’s my favorite place for duk bo sam. Too bad, they closed down now. There’s only 1 Korean place in San Jose that has duk bo sam, but we still love Shik Do Rak. And yes to this soon tofu soup. Slurp!!

  41. Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes

    March 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Wow, I’m in love with your site. The photos are so gorgeous, and it seems fun here! I’ll definitely be back. Beautiful soup and wonderful styling.

  42. chatteringkitchen

    March 2, 2013 at 5:49 am

    This looks so good. Definitely need to try this

  43. Arlene @FlourOnMyFace

    March 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

    This soup looks so delicious.

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    April 21, 2013 at 1:13 am

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    April 24, 2013 at 2:25 am

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  49. Sarah

    April 27, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I love Soondubu Jjigae! I love Korean food in general. I love this recipe. I tried a lot of recipes of Soondubu Jjigae. Thanks for sharing this. Your website is amazing! I love all your photos!

    I hope you can visit mine if you have time.

    Have a nice day! :)

  50. Priya

    August 20, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Hi Alice, I saw one of the images from this post here:
    They have just given an end credit as ‘Image Credits: Foodgawker’. No mention of your name/blog. Just thought I will let you know.

    • hipfoodiemom

      August 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Thank you for letting me know! :)

  51. Katie Gagnon

    December 31, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    This is one of my favorite things to order! I was wondering if gochujang (the paste) can be substituted for gochugaru (the powder). I have paste but not powder.

    • hipfoodiemom

      December 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Katie! you can certainly use gochujang in place of gochugaru but start with 1 or 2 teaspoons, not tablespoons, and add it when you are adding in your broth or stock and adjust accordingly to your taste. Also, there are other versions too if you don’t want to use pork. . Let me know if you try this!! Happy New Year!

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  53. Jason

    October 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Hello! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I lived in Ktown for like 6 years, and BCD is my absolute favorite! I wanted to ask you how close the flavors of this recipe are to the soup at bcd? I had to move back to my hometown in Florida for family reasons and I’m having serious withdrawal for this soup lol

    • hipfoodiemom

      October 24, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Hi Jason! I’ve eaten at BCD in Los Angeles but it’s hard to answer your question because there are different types of soondubu jjigae. . I would suggest that you try my recipe for yourself. . and with a lot of Korean cooking, after you’ve made it yourself, you can play around with the recipe, add more things, omit things etc. . also, the level of heat differs from person to person. . but I hope you try this!!! I also love soondubu jjigae, it’s one of my faves!!!


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