Even though we’ve been experiencing summer temps around here on the East Coast in late December, the holiday season has me craving a delicious hot bowl of sullungtang – the milky and fatty soup with marrow bits that my siblings and I grew up just calling, “bone soup.” I remember my grandma and mom would make this soup for us often during the cold season. They would have it cooking on the stove all day and then when it cooled down, they would put it in the fridge for the night and the next morning our job would be to scoop off the top layer of fat. We loved eating it for it’s delicious flavor but I never realized how nutritious the soup really is for you! It’s like the Korean version of chicken noodle soup but with extra nutritional benefits.
Bone broth is very high in minerals and protein, improves digestion, strengthens bones and joints and helps to detox the body of toxins. And even more nutritious is the bone marrow (which my husband won’t eat but I think is SO delicious!) that contains many different kinds of cells important for your immune system function and bone growth and is loaded with monounsaturated fats, the good fat that is important for a healthy heart.
Bone broth is also supposed to be great for milk supply so it’s a great soup for new and nursing moms. My kids love this soup, especially with the addition of glass noodles / dangmyun, and I can’t wait to make it for my youngest one once he starts solids in a few months. I’m sure your kids will love it too! :)
Because this recipe makes a large batch, it’s perfect to portion some out into small baggies and freeze. It’s a great soup by itself or as a base to mix in other ingredients or to make other Korean soups such as rice cake soup / dduk gook or seaweed soup / miyuk gook. It does take many hours to cook but most of it is just cooking time on the stove so it’s a great soup to make on a day that you will be home all day.
Okay, so let’s get started! I usually purchase the ox bones at a local Korean grocery store but I was very excited to discover grass-fed ox bones at Whole Foods. They are in the freezer section and labeled as “Bone Marrow” and they said that they always have some on hand in the back so if you don’t see any out in the front of the store, ask them to bring some out for you.
Ox Bone Soup / Sullungtang (설렁탕) / Bone Broth
- 3-4lbs of ox bone (marrow and knuckle bones) *to achieve the milky soup color, make sure you are purchasing ox leg bones called “sagol” in Korean, and not oxtail (which is used to make oxtail soup/ ggori gomtang).
- 1-2lbs of beef flank
- Rice, salt, black pepper, chopped green onions, hot red pepper flakes / gochugaru
Step 1: Soak the bones for 1 hour in cold water to draw out the blood. Soak the beef in a separate bowl for 1 hour as well.
Step 2: Place the bones in a large pot (extra large one if you have it), cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 45 minutes. There will be a lot of impurities that will rise to the top.
Step 3: Drain pot, wash the bones in cold water, and clean the pot.
Step 4: Place bones in pot, cover with water and bring to a second boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn down heat to low/medium to maintain a moderate boil for 3-4 hours until the soup turns a nice milky white color. Also, add in the beef and boil about 2 hour until it turns soft. Usually the water level reduces some during cooking, so I end up adding 3-4 cups of more water. Pour the broth into a bowl and let cool. Remove beef and thinly slice (against the grain) to use later.
Step 6: Fill up the pot again with water and bring to a third boil. Boil again for another 3-4 hours or longer until it turns milky. I like to boil longer for this 3rd boil to make sure to extract all of the yummy goodness from the bones. Drain into a colander and combine with broth from second boil. Remove all of the marrow from the bones and place in soup or set aside (your preference).
Discard bones. You will know when you’ve extracted all of that good stuff when you can see the cavities of the bones and it looks like this:
Step 8: Place your pot in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 5 hours. A layer of fat will form at the top. Remove and discard (I just used a big spoon).
Step 9: When ready to serve, reheat some bone soup and ladle some into a large bowl with some pieces of sliced beef and marrow bits. Garnish with glass noodles / dangmyun or somen noodles, green onions, salt, and/or hot pepper flakes / gochugaru and serve with a bowl of hot rice and kimchee (I rinse kimchee in cold water for the kids).
Make sure to freeze some for quick and easy meals for another time. I like to use small Ziplock bags or milk storage bags to freeze the leftover broth into portions! Defrost and mix into baby food for a delicious and nutritious meal for your little ones or enjoy some on a nice cold fall or winter day or when they are sick.