Easy crispy-fried tofu soup

I have a confession to make. I’ve always been a bit afraid of tofu. Don’t get me wrong. I like the stuff when it’s made for me. It’s a good substitute for meat in all kinds of stir fries and soups, and if marinated and fried properly, takes on a lovely flavour and texture.

But when confronted with a packet of tofu, I’ve always been completely at a loss. So strange and squishy and watery – what on earth do you do with it?

Crispy-fried tofu soup

Crispy-fried tofu soup

Ever since I made that eat less meat resolution, I knew I’d have to take tofu by the horns. And so here is my first tofu dish. It’s inspired by something I ate once in Vietnam. It’s really simple to make, so any fellow tofu-sceptics out there should give it a try.


Tofu tips

I did a little survey of my tofu-eating friends, and here are their top tips for cooking with tofu. What are yours?

  • The key is in pressing the tofu first. Wrap it in a tea towel and put it on a chopping board. Put another chopping board on top and place a heavy cookbook or two on top. Leave for around 15 minutes, until the tofu has squashed down and feels firmer. Watch out for the water which will come out of it though!
  • Marinating is important. Marinate just with soy, or a combination of soy, rice wine vinegar and whichever other spices you’re using.
  • Fry until brown, and add soy sauce, garlic and fresh chilli.


Serves 3

Time needed: 45 minutes, including marinating time


What you need

250g tofu (packed in water), cubed into 1cm pieces

4 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2.5 in piece of ginger, finely sliced

500ml vegetable stock

2 stalks lemongrass, crushed and finely sliced

4 spring onions, finely sliced

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 red birds-eye chilli, finely sliced

Handful of mushrooms, finely sliced

200g kale, finely chopped (or any other veg you’ve got – carrots, broccoli, cabbage etc)

1 nest egg noodles

1 dstspn sugar

Handful of coriander, finely chopped

How to make it

  1. First, you need to marinade the tofu. Put the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, half the ginger and the tofu in a non-reactive bowl and add the tofu. Leave for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Use the time while the tofu is marinating to chop and prepare all the other ingredients.
  3. Once you’re ready, you need to fry the tofu. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then carefully add the tofu to the pan, reserving the marinade in the bowl. Lower the heat, and leave the tofu to fry on one side until golden. Carefully turn the pieces over and brown on the other side. Repeat, until the tofu is brown and crispy all over, then use a slotted spoon to remove from the heat.
  4. In a deep saucepan, add the vegetable stock, lemongrass, spring onions, lime leaves and chilli. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the herbs and spices to infuse.
  5. Add the mushrooms and kale, and simmer until the kale turn bright green and the mushrooms are soft to the tip of a knife.
  6. Then add the noodles, and allow to simmer until the noodles are soft – usually about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Now check the seasoning. Add the sugar and stir til dissolved.
  8. Divide the soup into bowls, then top with the crispy-fried tofu and garnish with coriander.


Other things I’m going to try with tofu