Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms

 

by SusanV on February 7, 2006

 

Last night I realized that I had an open can of coconut milk that I needed to use soonĖnever a bad situation since coconut milk is one of my favorite foods. I decided to try to recreate the coconut milk and tofu soup Iíve 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.)

 

Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms

 

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 didnít have. One was lemongrass. I didnít 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 donít have even the dried version, use a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice instead.

 

Another traditional ingredient that I donít have access to is Kaffir lime leaves, so Iíve used 2 teaspoons of grated lime zest as a substitute. If youíre lucky enough to have the original ingredient, use two teaspoons of the leaves sliced thin.

 

Thai Coconut Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms

 

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk*

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

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 donít 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: Iíve had a lot of success substituting rice milk or soymilk for coconut milk; 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 recently posted 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.

 

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This came out deliciousĖredolent of coconut, ginger, and red curry. 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 wellĖmore coconut broth for the grown-ups!