Give your body a boost with this nourishing Korean New Year’s Day soup

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Photo: Leela Cyd
Everyday Korean
Photo: Countryman Press

Whether you were out celebrating the night before with champagne or raising a kombucha-filled glass, come New Year’s Day, nothing is going to feel better than curling up with a warm bowl of brothy, homemade soup. Ddeokguk, a rice cake soup, is a Korean New Year’s Day tradition—and it hits just the spot.

“New Year’s Day is all about resolutions, but it’s also about relaxing and taking a moment to breathe and enjoy the fruits of our labors,” says Kim Sunée, co-author of Everyday Korean, which has a recipe for Korean New Year’s Day soup that can be made two different ways.

“New Year’s Day is all about resolutions, but it’s also about relaxing and taking a moment to breathe and enjoy the fruits of our labors.”

If you’re feeling ambitious in the kitchen on January 1st, the recipe below from Everyday Korean calls for a complex homemade broth called “Don’t Leave Me Soup.” (So named because, as legend has it, when a husband sees his wife making this soup he takes it as a sign that she is heading off on a long trip without him.) But if you’re nursing a headache from too many cocktails the night before, there’s also a shortcut to the savory goodness by using store-bought broth.

The recipe also calls for Korean rice cakes which are bound to become your new favorite noodle alternative. “Think of this unique Korean ingredient as more like rice pasta that would remind you of chewy gnocchi,” says Lee. “I love how silky it becomes in a warm milky bone broth, lightly seasoned with soy sauce. It will comfort everyone!”

Keep reading to learn how to make the Korean New Year’s Day soup.
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New Year’s Day soup (Ddeokguk)

Makes 4 servings

For the “Don’t Leave Me” broth (Sahgol-tang)
3 lbs beef marrow bones
2 lbs beef knuckle bones with tendon 
(if available, otherwise use marrow bones)
1 medium-size daikon radish, or 1⁄2 large mu 
(Korean radish)
Two 2-inch pieces fresh ginger
6 to 8 green onions, including roots
1 lb brisket
6 to 8 jujubes (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup
2 cups sliced Korean rice cake
4 cups “Don’t Leave Me” broth or other store-bought low-sodium broth of your choice
1 Tbsp soy sauce or fish sauce
1 cup cooked brisket or beef tendons from “Don’t Leave Me” soup (optional)
1/2 cup shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (optional)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup packed chopped green onions
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1⁄8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp chopped green onion
2 tsp crushed toasted seaweed

For the “Don’t Leave Me” broth
1. Optional: Place the bones in a large container and add enough cold tap water to cover. Soak the bones for at least two hours and up to half a day, frequently changing the water. Removing the blood helps keep the broth nice and clean.

2. Rinse the marrow and knuckle bones well, if using, and place in a large stockpot. The bones should take up about half of the stockpot space. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook for ten minutes. Discard the liquid and rinse the bones under cold tap water. Set the bones aside. Rinse the pot.

3. Place the blanched bones back in the clean stockpot. This time, add extra water after adding enough to cover the bones, about eight quarts total. Bring to a boil. Add the radish, ginger, and green onions, lower the heat to a low simmer, and let simmer for two hours, adding a little more water as it cooks down.

4. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the radishes, ginger, and green onions. Reserve the broth (batch A) in a large container. Chill for at least four hours and up to 24. Pick out the knuckle bones from the stockpot and let cool. When cool enough to handle, and preferably with gloves on, remove the tendons from the bones and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use—this allows for firm and not mushy tendons. Not all the tendon will be ready to fall off the bone. That’s okay, you’ll have another opportunity to pick them later.

5. Put the knuckle bones back in the pot with the marrow bones. Add the brisket to the stockpot, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer again for two hours. Let cool slightly, remove the brisket, and add it to the bowl of tendons in the refrigerator. Chill the broth (batch B) in the refrigerator for at least four hours and up to 24.

6. Take both batches of broth from the refrigerator, remove the top layer of fat, and place both batches together in a big stockpot. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the jujubes, if using, and simmer for 20 minutes. Use the broth, brisket and beef tendons to make Ddeokguk, as directed below.

For the soup
1. Soak the rice cakes in two cups of cold water for at least five minutes and up to 30.

2. Pour the broth into a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Start by adding one teaspoon of soy sauce, taste, and add up to two more teaspoons. Drain the rice cakes and add to the pot. Add the meat and mushrooms, if using. Simmer for ten minutes, allowing the rice cakes to absorb the seasoning from the broth. Occasionally stir to prevent the rice cakes from sticking. Add the garlic and green onions and cook for two to three minutes.

3. Bring the soup to a boil and drizzle the beaten egg over the bubbling broth to make egg ribbons. Do not stir for 15 seconds, allowing the egg to set. Drizzle with the sesame oil and sprinkle with pepper before turning off the heat. Serve in a bowl and garnish, if desired, with more chopped green onion and crushed toasted seaweed.

If you’re looking for more slow-simmered meal ideas, here are the best superfood soups you can make in 30 minutes or less and a detox soup you can make in 20 minutes

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