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Thai Tofu Soup with Tamarind

Posted Jun 03 2009 6:21pm

Thai soups are the business, with their unapologetic combinations of spicy, sweet and sour.  And that other flavor with an exotic name.  This recipe, based on a meaty version found in Splendid Soups by James Peterson, is easy to the point of silliness, yet deliciously complicated-tasting. 

The only challenge, I would say, is to locate the tamarind paste, which is so much better than using lime juice.  I found mine in my trusty Shoprite, so don’t think you have to travel to a large city or fly to Southeast Asia.  If your local grocery store doesn’t have it, check health food stores with good Asian sections or consider ordering a jar on-line.  It will last you forever and provide a tang not found elsewhere in nature.  

And do I even need to say how healthy this is?  Serve it with brown rice.

Prep Time:  5 Minutes
Cooking Time:  30 Minutes
Yield:  4-5 Servings

1 Block Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
6 Tbsp Tamarind Paste OR Juice of 3 Fresh Limes
2 Shallots, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
½ Tsp Lemon Zest
2-inch Length of Lemongrass, finely chopped OR 3 Scallions, white and green parts, sliced
4 Jalapeno Chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 Tsp Finely Chopped Ginger
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Quart Vegetable Broth

Drain tofu and press between two clean kitchen towels to remove excess water.  Cut into bite-size slices and set aside.  Combine tamarind paste (if using) with 1 cup boiling water, stirring until dissolved OR squeeze the juice from all three limes.  Drop tofu pieces into tamarind/water mixture or lime juice, toss to coat and set aside.  In a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, combine shallots, garlic, cilantro, lemon zest, lemongrass or scallions, chilies and ginger.  Add a little broth if using a food processor, to get it to move around and mix together.  In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium-low heat and add the paste.  Cook for about ten minutes, stirring often, then add vegetable broth.  Stir in tamarind or lime juice and tofu pieces.  Raise heat to bring to a simmer and cook for about more ten minutes, uncovered, or until well heated through.  Serve sprinkled with fresh cilantro.     

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