This vegan hot and sour soup is made with protein-packed tofu and healthy bok choy in a gingery broth, making it deliciously meal-worthy.
My family didn’t eat much Chinese food when I was growing up. I’m not really sure why, as both my parents are pretty cool with it at this point in time. I’d hang out with friends’ families who’d take me to the Chinese buffets, where I’d simply stare, perplexed as to what could be in all of these strange looking food items, before settling on some wontons and egg rolls. Can’t go wrong with fried stuff when you’re a kid.
When I reached my late teens and early twenties, people began to assume I was well versed in the typical Chinese restaurant menu. Why wouldn’t I be? Not only was Chinese food an American favorite, but I was a vegetarian, and that stuff was loaded with veggies. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that this was news to me. So I went and I tried out a few of these Chinese places I’d been intimidated by for so long. I remained intimidated for a bit, nervous to order anything but veggie lo mein, which I acquired quite a taste for back then, and can barely stomach at this point in life. Eventually I branched out. Hot and sour soup was one of my first shots at this. I loved hot, loved sour, and this soup had tofu! I was hooked, and this one has remained a favorite. When I lived in Philadelphia I would stop by an Asian market near my apartment, almost daily, and grab a quick cup for a buck ninety-nine.
I eventually came up with my own recipe for vegan hot and sour soup, and it’s been a lasting favorite. I start with a basic recipe, and add whatever veggies I happen to have a hankering for on that day. Carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, and all sorts of greens go well. For this particular version I went with bok choy, which worked out excellently!
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. block of firm tofu, drained
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 8 oz. can bamboo shoots, sliced
- 1 bunch bok choy, green part, sliced
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Asian chili paste (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup cold water
- 6 scallions, sliced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Press your tofu by wrapping in paper towels and placing a heavy object on top, such as a cookbook.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add ginger and garlic and sautee for about one minute, being careful to avoid burning.
- Add broth and bring to boil. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots and simmer for about ten minutes.
- While your broth simmers away, remove paper towels from tofu and cut into about ½ inch cubes.
- Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and cook on each side until it begins to brown. Remove from pan. (Note - I have skipped this step when in a hurry, just cubing the tofu and throwing it right in, and the soup is still delicious.)
- Add tofu, bok choy, vinegar, chili paste, soy sauce and sugar to broth. Simmer an additional ten minutes.
- Add cornstarch mixture, stir well, and remove from heat.
- Add scallions and cilantro, setting just a bit of each aside.
- Ladle into bowls and top with remaining scallions and cilantro.