Winter and soup. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. A large simmering pot of soup on the stove is a winter staple around here, but sometimes the classic cold-weather soups can get a little dull. That’s when I make this gem – exotic spicy and sweet flavors, tasty tofu and abundant vegetables make this a healthy and welcomed winter hiatus.
Thai Vegetable Soup
(vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 package extra firm tofu
¼ cup, 2 tbsp tamari sauce, divided
½ tbsp, ½ tbsp hot sauce, divided (I like Frank’s)
2 chopped carrots
1 small chopped red onion
1-2 chopped zucchinis
1 chopped red pepper, seeded and cored
3 chopped cloves garlic
2 cups chopped Savoy cabbage
1 cup chopped and stemmed shiitake mushrooms
1 finely chopped jalapeno, seeded and cored
1 tsp peeled and finely chopped ginger
½ tsp each: cumin, cardamom and turmeric
1 14 oz can light coconut milk
2 cups water or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt (kosher or sea salt) and pepper to taste
Drain tofu and press by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel or several paper towels and placing a weight, such as a book or tea kettle filled with water, on top. Press for 20 minutes, but if you are short on time, just 5 minutes will get out most of the excess water (this is a good time to prep your vegetables). Cut tofu into 1 inch squares or rectangles, about ¼ inch thick. Mix the ¼ cup tamari and ½ tbsp hot sauce in a shallow dish. Place tofu in dish, coating completely, and then set aside to marinate. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté 4 minutes. Add zucchini, bell pepper and garlic and sauté another 3 minutes. Add cabbage, mushrooms, jalapeno and ginger, and continue to cook until all vegetables are tender and cabbage is wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add spices and cook just 30 seconds, then add coconut milk, water or broth, juice of half the lime, bay leaves, half the cilantro, 2 tbsp of tamari sauce and ½ tbsp hot sauce. Stir, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, place tofu slices in single layer on non-stick pan. If not non-stick, coat pan lightly with cooking spray or wipe with paper towel dapped in cooking oil. Place in oven and cook about 25 minutes, turning once, until tofu is golden brown and firmer. Let cool slightly then add to soup.
Taste soup and add salt or more spices, if needed. Add ground pepper, ladle into individual bowls, and garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.
Tips and Tweaks:
- Like a spicier soup? Add more hot sauce, a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, and don’t core or seed the jalapeno.
- Like a sweeter soup? Add a tsp of agave nectar or honey.
- Add more or less water, depending on how thick you want your soup.
- For more variety, try adding lemongrass and/or cubed sweet potatoes.
- You can substitute olive oil for the coconut oil if needed.
- If you aren’t eating gluten-free, you can use regular soy sauce instead of the tamari (tamari is basically just soy sauce made without wheat)
- Serve over balsamic rice for a heartier meal.