Korean Spinach Soup with Fresh or Canned Clams (Shigeumchi Doenjang Guk)

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is Korean spinach soup with doenjang and clams. My mother-in-law made this dish regularly when my husband was growing up, and it always reminds him of simpler days back in Jersey.

With high quality fresh clams sometimes hard to find, I wondered if canned clams might substitute. Turns out that it’s not only adequate, it’s actually delicious in the Korean spinach soup and we didn’t miss the fresh clams at all. Well maybe a little.

Korean Spinach Soup (Shigeumchi Doenjang Guk)

Adapted from Korean Bapsang

Korean spinach soup


  • 1 6.5 oz can of clams including liquid, or 1/2 pound any small variety of clams Manila, little neck clams
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach about 10 ounces
  • 8 ounces soybean sprouts kongnamul, 콩나물
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons  doenjang 된장 (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Instructions for Spinach Doenjang Guk

  • If using live clams, rinse and scrub the clams. Place the clams in salted water (1 tablespoon of salt in 2 to 3 cups of water) for 30 minutes or longer to get the clams to spit out the sand.
  • Trim off the roots from the spinach. Wash thoroughly until there is no more sand in the water. Drain. If your spinach is long, you can cut them in half. Rinse the soybean sprouts a couple of times, discarding any floating skins. Drain. Clean and roughly chop the scallions.
  • In a Korean clay pot (or any medium size pot), stir the soybean paste into 6 cups of water (preferably the water used to rinse the rice). Use a bit less water if using canned clams. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the live or canned clams plus liquid, tofu, beansprouts, and garlic. Boil until clams open and the beansprouts are cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Throw in the spinach and scallions, and cook until wilted for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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