With its bold, wide variety of different tastes and textures, it’s no surprise that Korean food has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. Now that it’s finally truly autumn, the weather has cooled down enough to enjoy the best of what Korean cuisine has to offer: soup.
You read that correctly. Bulgogi and bibimbap are all very well, but what are they next to the vast array of flavorful soups that manage to be meaty, sour, spicy, salty – often all in the same bowl?
Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy these fabulous soups and stews, so I recommend trying out as many of these as possible soon.
Bbyeodakwitang (뼈다귀탕) – AKA: Gamjatang (감자탕)
Both names of this soup – bbyeodakwitang and gamjatang – refer to the pork bone on which the meat is cooked until it’s tender enough to fall off. It then swims along with green onion and other vegetables in a rich, meaty broth that has just enough spice to warm you up a little.
Note: 25시 in Namwon boasts the best bbyeodakwitang on the planet. If you ever get the chance to be within five hours of the place, then go. I once brought a Parisienne friend of mine to eat bbyeodakwitang and she told me it was one of the best meals of her life. Take that how you will.
Yukaejang holds a special place in my heart for being one of the first Korean soups I was truly passionate about. Even if I just ate an entire Thanksgiving meal, if someone offered me a hot bowl of yukaejang I would do my best to down a few
Yukaejang consists of shredded beef brisket, fernbreak fiddleheads (which give it an amazing rustic flavor), plenty of scallions, and a few glass noodles which in a spicy, silky meaty broth.
I honestly do not have a picture because no bowl of yukaejang has sat in front of me long enough to take one.
Samgyetang is Korea’s version of you’re mom’s best chicken soup. It consists of an entire tiny chicken, stuffed with rice, ginseng, and a plum. The broth is gentle and not at all spicy, so it’s perfect for those of you who can’t stomach too gochu (Korean peppers) or are simply looking for a dish that’s bound to bring on a bout of nostalgia – even if it’s your first time having it.
TIP: Koreans often eat this soup when they’re sick, so often it’s served unsalted! You can add your own salt directly, or even dip chunks of chicken into the salt provided.
Galbitang, if you speak Korean, is a self-explanatory soup: galbi means “rib” while “tang” means soup.
Galbitang has a surprisingly delicate flavor for those used to the generally bold flavors Korea is so known for. There’s meat, of course, scallions, and a few glass noodles in a gentle broth. Galbitang is one of the few Korean soups without a hint of spice, so it’s good for those who can’t handle too much pepper or who simply want to give their tastebuds a break. (Though, of course, if you order this you’ll get plenty of banchan to supplement your meal!)
Tip: Add some of the rice they give you into the broth! It’s delicious, and a great way to get all of that tasty broth from the bottom of the dish.
Kimchi Jjegae (김치 찌개)
Tofu, chunks of pork, and kimchi all swimming around in a delicious spicy and sour broth – what’s not to love?
Just like every Italian family has their own beloved pasta recipe, Koreans have a recipe for kimchi jjegae. This soup can range from mediocre to excellent, so check internet reviews or ask a Korean friend before going – or better yet, ask your Korean friend’s mom to make you a bowl.
What’s your favorite Korean soup? Did I leave anything off the list? Let me know in the comments!