Tofu noodle soup hits the spot when you want comfort food that feels nourishing and restorative, not heavy. It’s a vegan alternative to chicken noodle soup that checks all the same boxes nutritionally and for lack of a better word, spiritually. You know, tofu noodle soup for the soul or something like that?
It’s a cozy and familiar meal for when the weather’s rainy, the world feels gloomy, or you’re feeling unwell. It’s best served when you’re curled up on the couch with a feel-good movie or TV show.
Cravings for tofu noodle soup rarely hit when you’re up to heading to the grocery store. Thankfully it’s a soup that suits rummaging through your fridge and cupboards to use what you have.
The real focus of tofu noodle soup is right there in the name: tofu, noodles, and broth. But you can throw in a few vegetables for added nutrition and to increase that “healing feeling”.
No vegetable is really essential, but carrots and celery are a classic addition that you’re likely to have on hand. I’ve also included mushrooms, kale, and frozen peas in the recipe. Chopped spinach, bok choy, or even broccoli are suitable additions too. If you have it, add a squeeze of fresh lemon to brighten up the flavours.
Preparing the tofu is simple. Cut firm or extra-firm tofu into thick slices before giving it a quick press. The purpose of pressing the tofu is to dry the outside (and draw out a little moisture) to prevent it from sticking in the pot. Cube it, add some soy sauce, and mix gently until the soy sauce is fully absorbed. Brown the tofu in a little olive oil before adding the vegetables and broth.
While this recipe is for tofu noodle soup, you could swap the tofu for chickpeas or chopped vegan “chicken” (not the breaded kind.) Tofu puffs or cubed store-bought spiced/marinated tofu are also suitable options.
Cook the noodles separate from the soup and add them just before serving. If you add them right away they’ll continue soaking up the broth until there’s none left and the pasta is mushy. Fusili is my pasta of choice but farfalle (bow-ties), shells, and broken spaghetti-type noodles all work well.
For speed and simplicity I use store-bought vegetable or “no-chicken” broth or bouillon cubes/powder. Be sure to use one you like because the flavour of the soup will lean heavily on the one you choose. If you have homemade broth on hand, all the better!
- 1–2 tbsp (15–30 ml) olive oil, divided
- 1 350g block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup sliced carrot (approximately 1 carrot)
- 1/2 cup sliced celery (approximately 1 rib)
- 1 cup (40 grams) kale, stems removed, finely chopped
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms (approximately 5 mushrooms)
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground ginger
- 6 cups (1500 ml) vegetable broth
- ½ cup (50 grams) frozen peas
- 2 cups (170 grams) uncooked pasta (fusili, farfalle, etc.)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, pour soy sauce over cubed tofu. Mix gently until the tofu absorbs the soy sauce.
- Heat 1/2 of the olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat, add tofu and sauté until evenly browned on all (or most) sides.
- Move the tofu to one side of the pan. Add remaining olive oil and add minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute, do not brown. Add carrot, celery, kale, mushrooms, and ground ginger. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add frozen peas and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Keep pasta and soup separate until ready to serve. Divide cooked pasta into bowls and top with hot soup.