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.
EllieOctober 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm
This soup was really good! Just made it for dinner. I used light brown sugar and garnished with green onions. I also decided to mix with a tab bit of peanut butter and it turned out perfectly!
balaJuly 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm
I just had coconut soup at a vegan restaurant which used rice noodles, spinach and pineapple chunks in addition to the vegetables you have mentioned. It was absolutely delicious. I fully intend to make it soon using your receipe and adding those extra ingredients.
SydneyNovember 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Would you mind posting the nutritional facts on this? Can’t wait to try it.
BethJanuary 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm
Just discovered your website, Susan. It’s fabulous! Excited to make this today, an 8-degree day in Chicago. And I’m with Sydney – do you have estimated nutritional info?
Can’t wait to add more recipes to my recipe box! 🙂
SusanVJanuary 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm
Beth, I’ve just added the nutrition info. It’s quite a lot of fat if you use full-fat coconut milk but if you replace it with lite coconut milk or soymilk and coconut extract, the calories and fat go way down.
Lucy GlibJanuary 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm
Thanks, Susan, for the speedy reply! I am using 365-brand “light” coconut milk so I will guesstimate.
CraigJanuary 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm
This is my go-to recipe these days. So tasty and filling. I add canned bamboo shoots and matchstick-cut carrots if I have them.
ToddFebruary 22, 2011 at 8:49 am
Really enjoy the site. I have been eating some coconut milk and using coconut oil and actually feel more mentally alert as a vegan. At the same time I am seeing some vegans physicians state that coconut is forbodden because of the saturated fat. Can anyone help me solve my confusion?
Tom WillsSeptember 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm
The minced ginger is close to the feeling of that Thai soup, but Kha (galingale,) a relative of ginger is the what gives those coconut milk soups their distinctive flavor….It can be purchased online in dried form…and here, near San Francisco, it can be found fresh in Asian markets and groceries….
Thanks for all the recipes,
EmilyFebruary 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm
I looked up this recipe online after eating a vegan curried tofu kale soup from a restaurant so I could try to re-create it at home. Adding a healthy helping of kale to this should do the trick. Goes very well; makes the soup heartier & who doesn’t love the fun curly texture of kale?
LivieFebruary 23, 2012 at 11:46 am
There is a wonderful paste on the market to make this soup (brandname Lobo – Tom kha paste) . Pretty easy to get in the U.S. at Asian shops. You can find a picture here…. http://importfood.com/salo1701.html. This paste also makes a great tofu marinade. Ingredients: Salt, galanga, lemongrass, soybean oil, sugar, spices, msg, citric acid.
ErnieFebruary 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm
Hi Susan, had this yesterday at a local Thai restaurant and am eager to try your recipe. Does it have to be canned coconut milk or can carton versions like SoDelicious be used?
Susan VoisinFebruary 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm
You can use the carton kind, but just like soy or rice milk, you would need to add coconut extract for it to have a coconut flavor. I’ve found that the SoDelicious doesn’t really have that coconut taste.
ErnieFebruary 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm
Thank you, Susan, I will stick with the can!
jaimeMarch 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm
can this be prepared in a vitamix? i just got one and looking for fun ways to utilize it.
Susan VoisinMarch 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm
I didn’t intend it as a blended soup, but who knows, it might be good that way. Have fun with your new Vitamix!
Emily SoleilMarch 4, 2012 at 10:08 am
I want to use fresh lemongrass in this. How much should I use? I haven’t tried using it before, but I have some that I found at the asian market here in Knoxville.
JulieFebruary 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm
Do you have a favorite brand of the Thai red curry paste?
Susan VoisinFebruary 7, 2014 at 9:22 am
I use the Thai Kitchens brand.
RachelJune 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm
When do we add the stock though? Does it boil with the coconut milk, or get added with the mushrooms?
Susan VoisinJune 1, 2014 at 10:13 pm
It’s in the first step, with the coconut milk.
LauraJanuary 22, 2018 at 9:00 pm
This is AMAZING! So simple, so yummy. Thank you! A devoted and grateful fan of FFV