Here we have a meal in a bowl of fantastic slurpy noodles and vegetables in a rich flavorful hot and sour broth. If you like hot and sour Chinese soups, this is for you. This soup is amazing the next morning for breakfast too, according to Nick, who got to the leftovers before I did.
As always, I cook meatless. But it’s hard to tell there is no meat in this. The combo of seared tofu and chewy mushrooms are just so satisfying, but the broth is the star of the show.
As for the noodles, you probably know that ramen noodles purchased in those little packages in the supermarket are a mixed bag when it comes to vegan or vegetarian ingredients. There is more about that here. If an Asian market or Cost Plus is nearby, there will be packages of ramen noodles that are meatless, especially those in little stick bundles of noodles. (Thank you Buddhists for the wide variety of vegan products in Asian markets!) Cost Plus sells the Hakubaku Organic Ramen brand that is without animal products.
Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu, Noodles and Vegetables
1 box extra-firm tofu (the sprouted variety sold by Trader Joe’s has extra protein)
Canola or other vegetable oil
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 packages or 2 ribbon-tied bundles of vegan ramen noodles
4 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups baby spinach leaves
One small ripe tomato, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped, green parts only
Drain tofu, slice in half lengthwise, and wrap each plank in paper towels to drain. Press lightly and change towels until most of the moisture has been removed. Then cut into one-inch cubes or rectangles and set aside
In a large pot or deep skillet, put in about 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to a smoke. Add tofu and fry, flipping pieces gently as each side browns. This takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove to paper towels to drain. There should be a little bit of oil left in the pot.
Into pot add garlic, ginger, and sliced mushrooms, stir frying until they release their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add chili garlic sauce and broth, bringing everything to a boil.
Add ramen noodles, stirring them lightly in the boiling broth for a few minutes until tender.
Blend vinegar, soy sauce and sugar together in a bowl and add to broth.
Turn off the heat.
Add chopped tomato. Add spinach, one cup at a time, allowing each batch to wilt into the hot broth.
Add the tofu and the scallions to the mix now in order to warm it up.
The soup is ready! Go for it!