Thai Tofu Soup with Lime

January 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

E: So, some things to say before we begin. First, this recipe is quite good–with a tantalizing mixture of sweet and tangy and spicy–but honestly the lime is a bit too much. I have made the soup twice, and both times it was really good to start, but eventually got a little tiring. By the time I got to the end of my bowl, I didn’t like the soup as much as I did to start. And I also found it was impossible to eat cold or even mildly cool, so keep that in mind. The original recipe suggests tamarind paste instead of limes, and I really think that could be what this soup needs, but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. If you do choose to use lime, consider keeping some of the lime juice used to soak the tofu out of the soup itself.

(And why haven’t I used tamarind paste yet? Because it is hard to find. Check your grocery store, but it may or may not be there–it wasn’t at mine, and I wasn’t in the mood to go elsewhere at the time. Try an Asian grocery store if you can’t find it wherever you normally shop–unless that is where you normally shop, and then congratulations, it is probably there–or get some online.)

Speaking of the original recipe, it is from Delicious Wisdom, a wonderful whole-food blog that appears to be no longer in existence. The pages still load, but appear totally blank. We have one or two other recipes from that site on this blog, and will likely have a few more, so same goes for them. If you need to find the original, I suggest searching for “Delicious Wisdom” “Thai Tofu Soup.” For now, at least, Google has a cached version.

So, if that hasn’t scared you away, we now turn to the soup itself. This is actually pretty easy. These amounts make enough for 5 or 6 small-ish portions, or 4 large portions (but as I said before this soup is best consumed in smaller amounts).

You will need:

2 blocks of extra-firm tofu (the original recipe used 1, but I thought it could use more tofu)
3 limes, juiced (or 6 tbsp tamarind paste)
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
½ tsp lemon zest
2 inches of lemongrass, finely chopped or 3 scallions, sliced
4 jalapeño chiles, seeded (if you like), and finely chopped
1 inch ginger, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
1 qt. vegetable broth

So start by draining and pressing your blocks of tofu, and then cutting it into cubes. I’d make about 24 cubes out of one regular-sized tofu block.

48 tofu cubes (some cubes are not shown)

Then either mix up your tamarind paste in 1 cup boiling water or juice your three limes, and set your tofu cubes marinating in the liquid.

juiced limes

Chop/dice/grate/mince up the chiles, garlic, ginger, shallots, cilantro, lemon zest, and lemongrass or scallions, and turn them into a paste in whatever manner suits your fancy (and the implements in your kitchen).


I’ve had good luck with an immersion blender and a food processor, though I’m sure a blender would work. The results would be likely less smooth and considerably harder to achieve. If you need to, add some of the broth so the mixture can actually blend.

When that is done, put some canola oil into a large pot and heat over medium or medium-low heat. Add the paste, and cook for about ten minutes. Make sure you keep stirring it every minute or two.

cooking the paste

Once the time is up, the paste should be fragrant and bubbling slightly. Then add the vegetable broth, and raise the heat to start the mixture simmering.

looks boring, but doesn't taste that way

While it is heating up, add the tofu pieces and the liquid they are marinating in, whatever it is. As I mentioned previously, consider leaving some of the liquid out if you are using limes. You need some of it in there, but the lime does get overpowering. You could always add it back to your individual bowl if you are feeling adventurous.

now this looks like a tofu soup

Cook for about ten minutes after adding the tofu. You want it to be steaming, and evenly heated, but you don’t really need to cook the tofu cubes or anything. I have a terrible feeling they might fall apart if you cooked it for a long time, so don’t go crazy.

Serve with fresh cilantro, if you have some left, and a side of Asian-inspired rice and/or vegetables.

fight the urge to build things with the tofu cubes


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