Last night I realized that I had an open can of coconut milk that I needed to use soon–never a bad situation since coconut milk is one of my favorite foods. I decided to try to recreate the coconut milk and tofu soup I’ve had in Thai restaurants, while reducing the amount of coconut milk just enough to lighten up the recipe a little. (If you prefer to avoid the coconut milk completely, see the *note at the end of the recipe.)
I needed to work with the ingredients that I had in my kitchen, so I made some adjustments to replace some traditional ingredients I just didn’t have. One was lemongrass. I didn’t have frozen lemongrass, but I did happen to have a jar of dried lemongrass, so I used a couple of teaspoons of it in this recipe. If you have fresh or frozen lemongrass, by all means, use it. But if you don’t have even the dried version, use a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice instead.
Another traditional ingredient that I don’t have access to is Kaffir lime leaves, so I’ve used 2 teaspoons of grated lime zest as a substitute. If you’re lucky enough to have the original ingredient, use two teaspoons of the leaves sliced thin.
This came out delicious–redolent of coconut, ginger, and red pepper. Adding a squeeze of lime juice just before serving really makes the flavors pop. I tried to be conservative with the curry paste, but I still managed to get it too spicy for my daughter. She wound up eating just the tofu and mushrooms on a bed of rice. Oh well–more coconut broth for the grown-ups!
Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups lite canned coconut milk or substitute, see below*
- 2 tsp. minced ginger
- 2 tsp. grated lime zest
- 2 tsp. dried lemongrass
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into matchstick-sized strips (reserve some for garnish)
- 3 cups mild vegetable stock**
- 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste, depending on desired hotness
- 1 package (12-14 ounces) extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes (not silken tofu)
- 15 ounces canned straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups sliced button mushrooms)
- 2 tsp. vegan sugar or other sweetener
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- Fresh lime juice to taste
- Grated lime peel, for garnish
- Combine lime zest, lemongrass, ginger, and coconut milk with stock in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the curry paste a half-teaspoon at a time, stirring well to combine and tasting as you go to make sure you don’t make it too spicy. Stir in the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, soy sauce, and salt, to taste. Simmer for about 10 more minutes. Add lime juice (I used the juice of half a lime) and serve over rice, garnished with red pepper strips and grated lime peel, with extra lime on the side.
*A note about the coconut milk: I’ve had a lot of success substituting rice milk, soymilk, or the new “drinking” kind of coconut milk for canned coconut milk in some recipes, though I haven’t tried it in this one; to replace the coconut taste, I add coconut extract, tasting it as I add it until it seems just coconutty enough without tasting fake. Bryanna Clark Grogan has a coconut milk substitute on her blog; it uses silken tofu, almond milk, and coconut powder.
**A note about the stock: Choose a very mild vegetable stock or broth, one without an overwhelming flavor of its own. A good option is Imagine Foods No-Chicken broth.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Nutrition (per serving, using lite coconut milk): 234 calories, 114 calories from fat, 12g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1136.8mg sodium, 181.5mg potassium, 16.6g carbohydrates, 4.9g fiber, 5.7g sugar, 15.7g protein.
Nutrition (per serving, using soy milk): 201 calories, 68 calories from fat, 7.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1130.1mg sodium, 294mg potassium, 17g carbohydrates, 6.4g fiber, 4.6g sugar, 19.1g protein.