Spicy Gukbap Korean Rice & Beef Soup Recipe

Gukbap is one of our favourite spicy Korean soup recipes to cook at home.

Gukbap (국밥, Korean pronunciation: kukp͈ap) literally means “soup with rice.” The soup dish is typically served in restaurants, and has been popular among working class Koreans since the late Joseon Dynasty.

Our authentic Spicy Beef Gukbap recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 2 hours.

You’ll love spooning through a bowl of our homemade Gukbap recipe featuring flavourful sesame, garlic, scallions, Korean red pepper powder, ssamjang, gochujang, kimchi and mushrooms.

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What Is Soup?

Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but can also be served cold like gazpacho), that is prepared by combining meat or vegetables with stock or water.

Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, creating a rich broth.

Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Soups generally have more liquid (broth) than chunkier and heartier stews.

In traditional French cuisine, soups are classified into two groups: clear soups (bouillon and consomme) and thick soups (purees, bisques, veloutes).

Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream.

Homemade Korean Gukbap ingredients.
Homemade Korean Gukbap ingredients.

History of Soup

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers, such as clay pots. To boil the water hot rocks were used.

The word soup comes from French soupe (broth), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning “restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as a cure to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.

In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.

English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Massachusetts called The Restorator, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.

Gukbap Soup is flavoured with onion, mushroom and Korean red pepper flakes.
Gukbap Soup is flavoured with onion, mushroom and Korean red pepper flakes.

Travel to Korea by Cooking Gukbap at Home

I love traveling through Asia.

As a professional food and travel writer I’ve eaten my way through India, Maldives, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as an English teacher. That’s when I was first introduced to yummy fermented vegetables like kimchi.

In Korea, I’ve slurped through steaming bowls of Spicy Gukbap at restaurants in Seoul, Suwon, Busan, Samcheok, Jeju and even the North Korean DMZ.

Our authentic Gukbap recipe is a spicy Korean soup featuring rice, garlic, sesame, scallions, Korean red pepper powder, ssamjang, gochujang, kimchi and mushrooms.

After enjoying your first few sips, you’ll realize why a steaming bowl of traditional Gukbap Rice Soup is a must-try when visiting South Korea!

Shred beef brisket before adding it back to the Gukbap broth with kimchi and cooked rice.
Shred beef brisket before adding it back to the Gukbap broth with kimchi and cooked rice.

Where To Eat Authentic Korean Gukbap Soup

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Korean restaurant that serves traditional Spicy Gukbap.

Haven’t traveled to Korea before? It may be helpful to first sample traditional Korean Rice Soup at a local restaurant to better understand how it is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal spice level, amount of vegetables to serve in each bowl and best garnish ideas.

You’ll also find inspiration on what to pair with Gukpab Soup including Korean inspired dishes like Gochujang Chicken Wings, Ssamjang Chicken and Kimchi Nachos, homemade kimchi, bibimbap and jjajangmyeon.

In Toronto, popular Korean restaurants the may serve Gukbap include Doma, Korean Village Restaurant, Arisu, Charcoal and Salt, Koko Share Bar, The Owl of Minerva, Seoul Shakers, Té Restaurant, Barrio Coreano, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Tofu Village and Korea House.

Ladle Beef Gukbap Stew into soup bowls.
Ladle Beef Gukbap Stew into soup bowls.

My Family Loves Korean Rice Soup

My family has a tradition of eating soup and salad for lunch on Sunday’s after getting home from church. Soup is such an simple and brainless meal to serve a busy family with kids.

My dad would often make cream of tomato soup and serve a bowl with grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Our family also loved slurping through bowls of Butternut Squash Soup, French Onion Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood spent in Toronto, Markham, Oakville and Muskoka are cozying up to a bowl of homemade soup with gourmet crackers, artisanal cheese and sourdough bread.

During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.

Garlic, onion, mushrooms and bean sprouts are available in abundance year round in Canada but we especially love to serve this spicy soup during the chilly winter season.

The best Beef Gukbap is full of hearty ingredients. The simple and spicy rice and kimchi soup is a great way to incorporate nutritious ingredients into your diet during the colder months of the year.

Serve Gukbap topped with sesame seeds.
Serve Gukbap topped with sesame seeds.

Gukbap Health Benefits

Our Korean Beef & Rice Soup recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

A useful source of copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, sesame seeds help support circulatory, digestive and skeletal health.

Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. The combination helps protect heart health.

Kimchi, a fermented cabbage condiment in Korea, is considered one of the healthiest foods on earth. The nutrient dense food features vitamin A and C, 10 different minerals and 34 amino acids.

Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.

Beef is a great source of protein and minerals like iron as well as an excellent source of the amino acid L-carnitine. Beef also features antioxidant glutathione known for its anti-aging benefits.

Gukbap is a popular traditional Korean soup perfect for a hearty lunch or dinner.
Gukbap is a popular traditional Korean soup perfect for a hearty lunch or dinner.

Homemade Gukbap Recipe Tips

This healthy Gukbap recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time soup makers!

  • Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking the vegetables.
  • We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making soup so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the pot and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt before spooning into bowls.
  • You can cook a vegan or vegetarian Gukbap soup by omitting beef, substituting beef stock for mushroom broth and substituting eggs for silken tofu.
  • If you can’t find brisket, substitute for other tough cuts of beef like flank steak or shank.
  • If you’d like to make the recipe extra spicy, feel free to add additional kimchi, Korean red pepper powder, birds eye chili or a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce.
  • Ssamjang is a sweet fermented bean paste. You can reduce heat and add a sweet flavour profile by adding a few extra teaspoons into the soup.
Serve Gukbap with Korean mandu dumplings, scallion pancakes or steamed rice.
Serve Gukbap with Korean mandu dumplings, scallion pancakes or steamed rice.

What To Serve with Beef Gukbap

There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then cozying up to a bowl of soup with a fresh salad, gourmet crackers, artisanal cheeses, sourdough bread, savoury muffins and homemade pickles.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our easy Gukbap Beef & Rice Soup as an appetizer before serving heartier mains. We love serving this Asian soup with Osaka Okonomayaki, Crispy Ginger Beef, Green Onion Cake and Vietnamese Crepe Bánh Xèo.

After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.

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Now you're an expert on how to make the best authentic Gukbap recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best authentic Gukbap recipe!

Storing Soup

If you have leftover Gukbap you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.

We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling. My mother often uses old glass pasta sauce jars to store soup in the freezer.

Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.

How To Make Spicy Beef Gukbap

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Spicy Gukbap Korean Beef Soup

Learn how to make the best homemade Gukbap. Our healthy Korean rice soup recipe features spicy kimchi, mushrooms, egg & beef brisket.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: korean
Keyword: Gukbap, Korean Soup, Spicy Soup
Servings: 4
Calories: 683kcal

Equipment

  • French knife
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • Large pot or Dutch Oven
  • Skillet
  • Wooden spoon or spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Beef Brisket
  • 7 cups Beef Stock
  • 2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 2 tsp Korean hot pepper powder
  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Small onion sliced
  • 1 cup Shiitake or Enoki Mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Gochujang
  • 1 tsp Ssamjang
  • 300 g Bean Sprouts
  • 3 Scallions finely chopped
  • 1 cup Cooked Korean Short Grain Rice
  • 80 g Kimchi chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 2 tbsp Sesame seeds

Instructions

  • In a large pot or dutch oven, bring brisket to a boil in 7 cups of beef stock. Reduce the heat to medium. Boil beef, covered, until the meat is tender enough for shredding, 60-90 minutes.
  • Spoon off any visible fat from the beef stock. Remove the meat and let cool. Slice or shred brisket into 3 inch strips.
  • In a skillet, heat the sesame oil and stir in the red pepper powder. Turn the heat off as soon as the oil starts to turn red and the chili powder takes on a pasty texture.
  • Add the garlic, sliced onion and mushrooms, stirring with a wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the shredded beef and soy sauce and stir until fully combined. Add spicy beef mixture to the pot filled with beef stock.
  • Stir in the gochujang and ssamjang into the soup broth and simmer over medium heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the bean sprouts, scallions, kimchi and cooked rice and boil for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slowly drizzle the eggs over the boiling soup and turn the heat off. Serve immediately sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Nutrition

Calories: 683kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 50.1g | Fat: 19.9g | Saturated Fat: 5.2g | Cholesterol: 183mg | Sodium: 3055mg | Potassium: 968mg | Fiber: 3.3g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 27mg

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