Mandu Guk, Korean for dumpling soup, is comfort food—a warm beef broth with dumplings and gently cooked ribbons of eggs topped with green onions and nori (roasted seaweed). It’s an easy and delicious meal for cold days, when you just don’t want to bother with anything complicated. It’s my go-to meal when I feel lazy.
Although Mandu Guk is eaten throughout the year, for Lunar New Year Koreans add rice cakes called tteokguk tteok, which translates to “rice cakes for rice cake soup.” This makes me chuckle!
The rice cakes make it a celebratory meal that symbolizes growing another year older. You can find them in the refrigerated or freezer section of most Asian markets.
Where to Buy Mandu
Make this soup with either homemade or store-bought Korean dumplings. They can be filled with kimchi, pork, chicken, or shrimp—whatever your heart and stomach desires.
Asian markets and even your local grocery store may carry many varieties of mandu. Check the frozen foods section. Any type of mandu, gyoza, or Chinese dumplings will work in this recipe.
So Many Delicious Variations
You can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes, like adding any kind of dumplings.
- I provide a way to make a quick beef broth for this soup using brisket or chuck. You can make this even faster by using store-bought beef or chicken broth. To make a vegetarian version, use store-bought vegetable broth with vegetarian dumplings.
- Although beef broth is traditional for Mandu Guk, the soup is sometimes an anchovy broth made with dried anchovies called myeolchi, and kelp (also known as dashima or kombu). Korean markets sell pre-assembled anchovy broth packets.
- You can add more vegetables, like chopped baby bok choy or napa cabbage leaves, or sliced shiitake mushrooms.
You don’t need much more than a side of kimchi to enjoy Mandu Guk. Its beauty is that it’s a meal in itself.
More Comforting Soup Recipes
- Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup)
- Hawaiian Oxtail Soup
- Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Spinach
- Cabbage Soup
- Matzo Ball Soup
Mandu Guk (Korean Dumpling Soup)
- 1 pound beef brisket or chuck, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 10 cups water
- 32 homemade or store-bought mandu (Korean dumplings), fresh or frozen
- 2 large eggs
- 4 green onions, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon white or black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 roasted nori (seaweed sheets), for serving
Season the beef:
In a medium bowl, combine the brisket, garlic, and soy sauce. Set it aside.
Make the beef soup base:
In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil and add the beef brisket and the marinade. Lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes.
Add the mandu:
Carefully add the mandu and increase the heat to bring the soup up to a low boil again. When cooked through, the mandu wrapper will turn translucent and it will float to the top.
If using fresh mandu, cook them for 5 to 9 minutes. If using frozen ones, cook them for about 12 minutes. Check the package instructions of store-bought mandu for cooking times.
In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs until the egg whites and yolks are fully combined.
As soon as the mandu is cooked, slowly drizzle in the eggs while stirring the soup. The eggs will turn into ribbons in the soup. If you pour the eggs without stirring, they will cook into a lump and stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add the green onions and sesame oil:
Turn off the heat, and add the green onions and sesame oil. Season with salt and black pepper, adding more to taste.
Serve the soup:
Divide the soup and mandu among 4 to 6 bowls. If using, crumble the nori with your hands or use kitchen shears to cut them into thin strips. Sprinkle a handful over each bowl.