Try this easy ground beef rice cake soup recipe, if you like Korean rice cake soup (tteokguk). You don’t nee to make soup stock separately, but still creates a flavorful soup.

Korean rice cake soup is served with ground beef topping and crumbled seaweed.

If you are a Korean or familiar with Korean culture, you will know that Koreans enjoy traditional rice cake soup for a New Year’s day.  We call it tteokguk (떡국). Today I am sharing a very easy rice cake soup with ground beef recipe.

The whiteness of rice cakes symbolizes the bright new beginning and the elongated log-like shape of the cake (tteok garae-떡가래) represents the upcoming prosperity of the New Year. Having a bowl of rice cake soup also means you are gaining one more year of wisdom and the life experience.

I have posted a rice cake soup recipe a couple of years ago and I would like to introduce another one.

Thin rice cake rounds are used to make the rice cake soup.

I got this recipe from a wonderful Korean lady whom I met in Malaysia about a year ago. She was from a place called Miryang (밀양), a southern town of South Korea not far from my hometown. She spoke with the charming southern Korean accent that I always adore. Her son and my son were in the same class at school and we occasionally arranged the play dates for the kids even though we lived far from each other. She served this soup for one occasion and I loved it so much.

I was told that this was the way people in Miryang make their rice cake soup. It was unbelievably simple to make and tasted wonderful.

Traditional rice cake soup requires a good beef (and even bone marrow, too) or anchovy stock to start with. And that alone takes some time to prepare. With this recipe, you will get your meal ready within 30 minutes, and it is delicious!

With the Lunar New Year (emryuk-음력) approaching within a few days, why not try this simple yet delicious soup for your family as a part of Korean Lunar New Year Foods? It is all about celebrating the cultural heritage and wishing the Happy New Year, WITHOUT the fuss.

Rice Cakes

When it comes to rice cakes, there are a few different shapes. To make the rice cake soup, you will want to use thin flat round rice cakes. They are sliced pieces from the thick log-like rice cake.

The cylinder shape rice cakes are for making spicy rice cakes called Tteokbokki, which is very popular Korean street food.

Korean rice cake rounds are soaking in water.

First soak your rice cakes in the cold water for 10 minutes if they are frozen or the air vacuumed kind. If the cakes are freshly made, no need to soak.

Ground Beef Sauce

This soup doesn’t require any soup stock and uses plain water for the soup base. In order to make add flavor, making the ground beef sauce is a key for this recipe. The seasoning in the sauce will deepens the flavor of soup and makes it delicious.

FYI, a pound of ground beef can make a quick and delicious Korean beef bowl over the rice. Try the recipe and you will love it. It’s perfect for the ground beef bibimbap recipe.

Ground beef is browned in a pot.

In a small sauce pan, brown the ground beef with a little oil. Use lean ground beef if possible. Drain some fat (but not all) if your beef has too much fat.

Chopped onion and garlic are added to browned ground beef.

Add chopped onion and garlic to the pan and cook together until they are soft, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour water to ground beef mixture.

Add water, about 3/4 cup…

Korean soup soy sauce is added to ground beef sauce.

and the Korean soy sauce for soup. You can also add a little bit of anchovy sauce to spike up the flavor which I love, but that is optional.

Korean soy sauce for soup

In case you are wondering what “Korean soy sauce for soup (or Korean soup soy sauce)” is like, this is it! We call it “chosun ganjang(조선간장)” or “gook ganjang (국간장)”.

You will provably know that I used this sauce quite often in my recipes if you have been reading my blog. This is not the regular soy sauce you are familiar with. It is different. Korean soup soy sauce is more pungent and saltier. So, don’t substitute with your everyday soy sauce. Visit my Korean pantry page to learn more about this sauce.

Remove foam on the surface of ground beef sauce.

Bring the sauce to boil. You will see some unpleasant scum floating on top. Scoop it out with a spoon. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Ground beef sauce is ready in a pot

Here it is. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

How To Make Ground Beef Rice Cake Soup

Rice cake rounds are added to the boiling water.

Now, go back to the rice cake! Bring a pot of water to boil.  Drain the rice cake from their soaking water and dump in the boiling water.

Rice cake rounds are simmered.

Cook the rice cakes in boiling water until they are tender and soft, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

That’s all the cooking you need to do! No need to season them.

A ladle of rice cake soup is added to a serving bowl.

Ladle riced cakes and the hot liquid into a serving bowl…

Ground beef sauce is placed on top of rice cake soup

Place 2-3 tablespoonfuls of beef sauce and some of its juice on top,

Garnish rice cake soup with chopped green onion and sesame seeds

Then sprinkle chopped onion and toasted sesame seeds. And drizzle a drop of sesame oil…

Crumbled roasted seaweeds are used as a garnish for Korean rice cake soup

Tear up some seasoned roasted seaweed (Many local groceries carry this seasoned seaweed these days) and top it over your soup. Now the soup is ready to serve!

Serve rice cake soup with kimchi

And don’t forget your kimchi to serve with. It is a MUST!

What a satisfying and comforting way to start a New Year in Korean way! Enjoy this soup. You just gained a year of age and wisdom.

The New Year has begun and many of us are geared up with new goals or plans to accomplish what we desire.

An old proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” I read this quote from an inspiring message by one of my church leaders. I love the word “Now”.  Now is the new beginning and the first day of the future. It does help you to find a courage when you fall short from the finish line, no matter how old you are.  This was my humble food for thought. How spiritual!

Happy New Year, everyone!

saehae bok mani badeoseyo (새해 복 많이 받으세요)!!!

More Rice Cake Recipes

Korean rice cake soup is served with kimchi.
A bowl of rice cake soup is garnished with ground beef sauce and crumbled seaweed.

Easy Ground Beef Rice Cake Soup

This ground beef rice cake soup recipe is easy and you don't need to make soup stock separately. The soup is still flavorful but only easier to make.
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  • Soak the rice cakes in cold water in a bowl. (No need to soak if your rice cakes are freshly made)
  • Ina small sauce pan, heat the oil and brown the ground beef until no longer in pink over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and continue to cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add water, Korean soy sauce for soup, and anchovy sauce. Bring it to boil and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat covered but a slight opening to ventilate the steam. When done add freshly crack black pepper to the sauce. Set aside.
  • Mean while, bring a pot of water (8-10 cups) to boil. Drain the rice cakes from the soaking water and add to the boiling water. Cook the rice cakes over medium heat until tender and soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Ladle the rice cakes and some cooking water into a individual serving bowl. Place 2-3 tablespoonfuls of beef sauce and its juice on top. Top with green onion, sesame seeds, seaweed, and a drop of sesame oil. Serve hot with kimchi.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.