This Korean-inspired beef, cabbage, and tofu soup is a healthy, satisfying bowl of comfort. It’s loaded with beef, cabbage, mushrooms, brown rice, and tofu, and topped with bean sprouts and scallions.
This warming soup with Korean flavors will fill you up with protein from both beef and tofu, a remarkable amount of cabbage and mushrooms, plus supporting brown rice and a sprout-scallion topping. Best of all, they simmer in a perky brew with a nuanced spice flavor from gochugaru pepper flakes. —America’s Test Kitchen
Beef, Cabbage, and Tofu Soup FAQs
If gochugaru is unavailable, a combination of 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper for every 1 tablespoon gochugaru is a good substitute. For a milder soup, use the lesser amount of gochugaru.
Sirloin steak tips are also known as flap meat. It can be sold as whole steaks, cubes, and strips. The folks at America’s Test Kitchen prefer to buy whole steaks and cut them themselves for this dish.
Beef, Cabbage, and Tofu Soup
- 14 ounces firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
- 8 ounces sirloin steak tips trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
- 2 tablespoons garlic oil divided
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 to 3 tablespoons gochugaru
- 4 cups store-bought or homemade beef broth
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup long-grain brown rice rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce plus extra as needed
- 1/2 small head (12 ounces) napa cabbage cored and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup (2 ounces) bean sprouts
- 4 scallions green parts only, sliced thin and on a bias
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil divided
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towel. Spread the tofu in a single layer on the paper towel and let drain for 20 minutes. Pat beef dry with paper towels.
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until just smoking. Brown beef well on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.
- In the same Dutch oven, combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ginger, and gochugaru and cook over medium heat until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in broth and water, scraping up any browned bits.
- Stir in beef and any accumulated juices, rice, and fish sauce and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until beef and rice are tender, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Stir in cabbage and mushrooms, return to simmer, and cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss bean sprouts, scallions, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil together.
- Remove the soup from the heat and stir in tofu, vinegar, and remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Season with extra fish sauce to taste. Top individual portions evenly with bean sprout mixture. Serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
There is a serious dose of umami flavor in this beef, cabbage, and tofu soup! Tender beef and crunchy cabbage grace the delectable broth. And the rice gives this dish a homey flavor that makes it taste like it has been simmering for hours. Filling tofu and mushrooms make this more of a meal rather than a bowl of soup. Don’t skip the sprouts and scallions. My advice is to take it a step further and add a squeeze of lime.
This broth is reminiscent of hot and sour soup. The quantity of shiitake may seem lavish, but they are the best part besides the broth. With varying tolerances for heat in our household, I used the smallest amount of spice called for. Like hot and sour, it will be excellent on a sore throat. I added chopped cilantro and more green onions at the end when reheating.
Originally published January 24, 2022