Easy Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae 순두부찌개)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 05/01/2022 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 30 minutes
This Korean spicy soft tofu soup is made with silken soft tofu that swims in a bowl filled with sizzling hot and spicy Korean soup broth. This less than 30 minute Korean tofu soup is as deliciously addicting as it is comforting!
Easy Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae 순두부찌개)

This easy Korean spicy soft tofu soup or soondubu jjigae (순두부찌개) is made with silken soft tofu that swims in a bowl filled with sizzling hot and spicy Korean soup broth. This less than 30-minute Korean tofu soup is as deliciously addicting as it is comforting!

A stone pot of sundubu jjigae with kimchi, scallions, rice, and a spoon nearby.
This classic Korean comfort food is easily customizable when it comes to spice, protein, and vegetable preferences.

Watch out BCD’s there’s a new delicious soft tofu soup recipe in town. Now you can make your own personalized bowl of tofu soup right from the comfort of your home. If you ask any of my closest friends, they will tell you that Korean soft tofu soup is by far my greatest addiction. In high school, my girlfriends and I would literally go to BCD’s tofu house every weekend and have a bowl of this bubbling hot and spicy tofu soup filled with the softest silky tofu that is served with a variety of delicious side dishes.

So when it comes to soondubu jjigae, I take it VERY seriously. This recipe is easily customizable based on your preferred spiciness level, broth, protein, and vegetable preferences. So basically this soft tofu soup recipe is perfect for everyone (who loves tofu.) If you are looking for other warm and comforting soups, check out my Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Stew) or homemade wonton soup!

Up close of a spoon lifting a piece of soft tofu from a bowl of spicy Korean tofu soup.
When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats silky tofu in spicy Korean tofu soup.

What is Soondubu Jjigae?

Soondubu Jjigae (순두부찌개) or Sundubu or Korean spicy soft tofu soup is a famous Korean stew that is made with soft tofu, vegetables, and your choice of protein. In Korean, soondubu translates to soft tofu and jjigae is stew. When it is served, it comes out boiling in an earthenware pot and is topped with a freshly cracked egg on top.

Looking down at a stone pot of spicy Korean tofu soup with kimchi and rice nearby.
Flavor tip: lightly bury the cracked egg into the soup for a perfect soft-boiled egg halfway into your meal.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Korean Earthenware pot – Traditionally, sundubu or soondubu is cooked in these Korean earthenware bowls and pots called ttukbaegi. They are perfect for stews and soups because the stone helps retains the heat so the dish remains hot as you eat your meal. You can find these earthenware pots online or at your local Korean grocery store.

Ingredients

Anchovy Stock

  • Large dried anchovies: traditionally, the base of Korean tofu soup contains anchovy broth. Boiling dried anchovies is all you will need to make the broth. You can find large dried anchovies in the freezer section of your local Korean grocery store.
  • Dried Kelp (dashima): make sure to get kelp (dashima) and not seaweed. Kelp is thicker and holds more flavor than seaweed. The dried kelp should be cut into 3-inch squares. You can find dried kelp (dashima) at your local Korean grocery store.
A bowl of dried frozen anchovies and a bowl of sliced kelp to reduce into an anchovy stock.
On the left: large dried anchovies. On the right: dried kelp cut into squares.

Soondubu Jjigae Soup Base

  • Yellow onion and garlic: are the aromatic ingredients for the soup base
  • Gochugaru or Korean red chili flakes: These peppers are sun-dried, then de-seeded and chopped to a size between flakes and powder. The flavor is hot, sweet, and slightly smoky. This creates the spiciness level of the soup. Any other substitutions will not compare to the flavor of Gochugaru. You can buy Gochugaru online or at your local Korean grocery store.
  • Chicken, beef, vegetable, anchovy stock: you can use any broth or stock that you prefer, but traditionally anchovy stock is what is used in restaurants. If you want to make this a vegetarian Korean tofu soup opt for using vegetable broth instead.
  • Fish Sauce: the fish sauce adds a depth of umami flavor to the stew. You can find fish sauce online or at your local Asian grocery store.
  • Korean Soy Sauce for soups: Korean soy sauce for soups is made to be put in soups and stews. It’s saltier than other kinds of soy sauce but the color is lighter. You can find Korean soy sauce online or at your local Korean grocery store.
  • Sesame oil: the sesame oil adds a touch of nutty flavor to the tofu soup. You can find sesame oil online or at your local Asian grocery store.
  • Sea Salt and Sugar: you will add these at the end depending if you would like a saltier or sweeter broth.

Toppings

  • Soft tofu – You can use extra soft tofu or silken tofu. Different brands may label it as sundubu, or soondubu. Find it in the refrigerated section in Korean or Asian grocery stores next to the regular tofu. You can find them packaged in either a tube or a rectangular container.
  • Mushrooms: you can opt for your favorite mushrooms such as enoki, or shiitake
  • Protein: you can mix and match your proteins for your own personalized soup. You can use prawns, chicken, beef, pork belly, spam, hotdog, little neck clams, muscles, or even frozen dumplings.
  • Egg: for garnish
  • Green onions: for garnish
The toppings to add into spicy Korean tofu soup.
Easily customize these toppings to your own preference of proteins and vegetables to accompany the soft tofu.

How To Make Korean Spicy Tofu Soup

You can whip up this comforting Korean spicy soft tofu soup recipe in under 30 minutes! If you opt for a more traditional stew, make the anchovy stock in advance and store it in the freezer to use later!

(Optional) Anchovy Stock

  1. Prepare the dried anchovies. Remove the large anchovy guts by opening the belly and scraping them out, but leave the heads on. The guts tend to make the broth bitter, especially with the larger anchovies.
Removing the guts from a frozen dried anchovy to prepare a stock.
Prepare your anchovies by removing their guts, but leave their heads on.
  1. Prepare the dried kelp (dashima). Gently wipe the dried kelp with a lightly dampened cloth to remove any sand or grit. Make sure to keep the white powder on for added flavor.
  1. Soak the dried anchovies and dried kelp. In a medium pot, soak the dried anchovies and dried kelp in about 7 cups of water for at least 20 minutes.
Soaking kelp in water to begin an anchovy stock.
Soak the dried kelp AND the prepared anchovies for 20 minutes.
  1. Boil and simmer. bring it to a gentle boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium high, and boil for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove anchovies and dashima from the stock. Set aside.

Soondubu Jjigae

  1. Heat a medium pot or earthenware pot (ttukbaegi) over medium high heat. Add the oil or vegetable oil, onions, and garlic. Stir fry until onions are transluscent and garlic is lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). Stir to combine about 1 minute.
  1. Add the protein and stir quickly to coat them with the chili flakes. Next, the fish sauce and soy sauce and mix until combined.
  1. Add the anchovy stock or chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil about 3 minutes.
Topping off the pot with the anchovy stock to create the soup.
Add the anchovy stock and bring to a boil.
  1. Then, add the soft tofu, mushrooms and egg and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and sugar, if required.
Sliced mushrooms added into the simmering spicy Korean tofu soup.
  1. Lastly, top with sesame oil and garnish with green onions. Serve with rice and Korean side dishes. Enjoy!
Up close of a stone bowl of spicy Korean tofu soup surrounded by table settings.
Garnish with green onion, and serve!

Tips For The Best Korean Tofu Soup

  • For an authentic tofu soup, make the anchovy stock from scratch. You can find dried anchovies and dried kelp (dashima) at your local Korean grocery store (i.e. Hmart or Zion)
  • Use earthenware bowls. Using earthenware bowls allows you to cook individual portions, customize your soup based on your preference, and keeps the soup nice and hot as you eat your meal.
  • Customize your soup! If you want your soup to be spicier, add more Gochugaru or Korean red pepper flakes. You can add more vegetables or protein as you please.

Storage Instructions

You can store this Korean spicy tofu soup in the refrigerator in an airtight soup container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

You can store the anchovy stock in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Additional Korean Recipes to Try

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Up close of a stone bowl of spicy Korean tofu soup surrounded by table settings.

Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup (Soondubu Jjigae)

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
This Korean spicy soft tofu soup is made with silken soft tofu that swims in a bowl filled with sizzling hot and spicy Korean soup broth. This less than 30 minute Korean tofu soup is as deliciously addicting as it is comforting!
Servings: 2 People
Print Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients

(Optional) Anchovy Stock

  • 11 (30 g) medium to large dried anchovies
  • 5-6 squares (10 g) Dashima (dried kelp) cut into 2×3 inch squares
  • 7 cup water

Tofu Soup Base

  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • ¼ yellow onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
  • 2 tablespoon Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 1 ½ cup Anchovy stock or chicken stock, or vegetable broth
  • ½ tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ tablespoon Korean soy sauce for soup
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
  • teaspoon sugar to taste

Toppings

  • 1 pack (12oz) Korean soondubu silken tofu
  • ½ cup mushrooms enoki or sliced shiitake
  • 8 oz protein of choice banana prawns, chicken, beef, pork belly, little neck clams, frozen dumplings
  • 1-2 large eggs
  • 1-2 green onion stalks minced

Instructions

(Optional) Anchovy Stock

  • Prepare the dried anchovies. Remove the large anchovy guts by opening the belly and scraping them out, but leave the heads on. The guts tend to make the broth bitter, especially with the larger anchovies.
  • Prepare the and dried kelp (dashima). Gently wipe the dried kelp with a lightly dampened cloth to remove any sand or grit. Make sure to keep the white powder (mannitol) on for added flavor.
  • Boil and simmer. In a small sauce pan, add the water, dried anchovies and dried kelp. Bring it to a gentle boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium high, and boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the kelp and simmer the anchovies for an additional 10 minutes on low heat. Using a cheesecloth, strain the liquid to remove anchovies and any remaining particles. Set aside.

Spicy Soft Tofu Soup

  • Heat a medium pot or earthenware pot (ttukbaegi) over medium high heat. Add the oil or vegetable oil, onions, and garlic. Stir fry until onions are transluscent and garlic is lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). Stir to combine about 1 minute.
  • Add the protein and stir quickly to coat them with the chili flakes. Next, the fish sauce and soy sauce and mix until combined.
  • Add the anchovy stock or chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil about 3 minutes.
  • Then, add the soft tofu, mushrooms and egg and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and sugar, if required.
  • Lastly, top with sesame oil and garnish with green onions. Serve with rice and Korean side dishes. Enjoy!

Notes

  • For an authentic tofu soup, make the anchovy stock from scratch. You can find dried anchovies and dried kelp (dashima) at your local Korean grocery store (i.e. Hmart or Zion)
  • Use earthenware bowls. Using earthenware bowls allows you to cook individual portions, customize your soup based on your preference, and it keeps the soup nice and hot as you eat your meal.
  • Customize your soup! If you want your soup to be spicier, add more Gochugaru or Korean red pepper flakes. You can add more vegetables or protein as you please.
Storage Instructions
You can store this Korean spicy tofu soup in the refrigerator in an airtight soup container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You can store the anchovy stock in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition:

Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 1482mg | Potassium: 703mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2552IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 4mg

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