Unlike many other processed food products, tofu is protein-packed with a low-calorie content and carries many health benefits.
Its taste enhances the intensity of meat, vegetables, fish, and seasonings. But many people still wonder whether they can use tofu for soup.
There are several different kinds of tofu, and all of them can be used as tasty soup ingredients. Not only does tofu make the soup richer in flavor, but it also boosts its nutritional value, turning your bowl into a fulfilling meal.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about adding tofu to your soup, as well as how to prepare tofu to get the most out of your bowl.
Preparing hearty meals can be time-consuming and expensive, but adding tofu to your soup will take the hassle out of making nutritious food.
Tofu is a delicious, inexpensive ingredient, so it’s a simple and effective way of elevating the quality of your diet.
Furthermore, this ingredient is rich in minerals and carries many health benefits, lowering the risk of many health conditions.
Also, cooking tofu is quick and uncomplicated, so you won’t have to spend hours working out how to use it in your soup.
One pack of tofu shouldn’t cost more than $3. Many plant-based options are not budget-friendly, and switching to a healthier diet often comes with steep price tags.
However, tofu has become a plant-based staple in cooking worldwide because it’s easy to come by.
Many manufacturers offer several options to shoppers, and consumers can choose the type they like best without hurting their budget.
Several types of tofu are produced, and they vary in texture, taste, and nutritional value.
That being said, all types are good for your health, as they are packed full of protein and have relatively low calorie levels.
Since it’s made from soybeans, tofu is gluten-free, has no cholesterol, and is rich in minerals like calcium and iron.
The food’s nutritional value minimizes the chance of cardiovascular complications, and it’s believed that soy preserves our cognitive abilities, preventing memory loss in old age.
Tofu’s proteins contain the nine essential amino acids our bodies require for normal functioning and healing. Vegans and vegetarians often use tofu to complete their diet’s nutritional profile.
Additionally, many manufacturers have started adding more minerals to their products, boosting their health benefits.
When looking for good store-bought tofu, make sure that the packet states that the tofu contains vitamins D and B12.
These vitamins have mood-boosting properties, encourage the formation of red blood cells, and make bones denser and stronger.
While many nutritious foods are challenging to incorporate into daily meals, you won’t have to spend much time and energy to get your tofu soup ready.
Its texture is perfect for absorbing the aroma of other ingredients, so tofu goes well with spicy and sweet dishes.
After draining the block from excess water, you can bake, sauté, or marinate your tofu and add it to your favorite meal.
Before adding to the broth, tofu is usually pressed to remove some moisture. This also prevents the tofu from breaking into pieces as the soup cooks.
Many recipes take advantage of tofu’s nutritional benefits.
It’s no surprise that adding a block of tofu to a delicious beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth has become a foolproof way of boosting the dish’s texture and flavor.
However, there are several types of tofu and their texture can change your tofu soup’s taste in different ways.
Most people prefer to use firm, extra-firm, soft, or silken tofu as an extra soup ingredient.
These types are prepared differently due to their texture, but all contain nutrients that make soups even more delicious.
Firm tofu is easy to handle, as the solid blocks won’t fall apart during cooking or frying.
When fully cooked, firm tofu takes on a jelly-like texture, and this rubbery property ensures that the blocks absorb the liquid from the marinade and broth.
Tasty and versatile, it can be prepared in many ways, so it’s an excellent choice for people who have no experience cooking tofu.
This type of tofu is usually pressed or drained to get a drier surface before it’s mixed with vegetables and cooking oils (like sesame oil, chili oil, or olive oil).
You can also store it in the freezer for future use without worrying about reducing its freshness and nutritional value.
Extra-firm tofu has less moisture than its firm counterpart, so the curds are more visible and tighter.
Firm and extra-firm tofu can be used interchangeably in most recipes as you can prepare the two in the same ways. However, extra firm tofu is more solid, so it won’t absorb as much liquid when marinated.
If you like stir-fried food, extra firm, crispy tofu is the ideal option. Its solidness allows the tofu to get a warm, brownish color without crumbling.
Soft tofu is never pressed, so it has a smoother texture. More delicate than firm tofu, this type is often added to soups to create a creamier texture or improve the density of the broth.
Originating from China, it’s a staple of many well-loved dishes like casseroles, soups, and stews.
This tofu is often served only with vegetable sauce to bring out its richness and creaminess.
When making lunch for the week ahead, people tend to sprinkle it into their broth and then store them in the fridge.
The softness of the tofu makes it easy to manipulate, and you can stuff it with your favorite meat and vegetables to make a tasty snack.
Silken tofu is often confused with soft tofu, as the two look very similar. But silken tofu is even more delicate and creamier and contains little moisture.
It’s sold in aseptic packages that don’t require refrigeration. If you’re going through your local store’s tofu section, silken tofu will be kept separately.
In Asian cuisines, silken tofu is often used to thicken tomato and miso soups. This tofu brings out the flavor of their spices and other ingredients like rice and vegetables.
However, you should handle silken tofu with care and slice it with slow and controlled movements. Otherwise, it will fall apart.
It’s best to press, marinate, or cook your tofu before blending it with other ingredients to ensure it retains its taste and texture when mixed in with the broth.
Remember to press firmer tofu types to remove any excess water. Skipping this process will cause your tofu soup to be diluted and mushy.
When marinated, the tofu cubes pack an extra punch of spiciness. The marinade goes under the surface area and infuses the deeper layers of the tofu with seasonings.
To get the best blend of tofu flavors, you can cook the cubes in a frying pan with soy sauce until the edges become brown.
You can then add the cubes to your broth near the end of its cooking process.
If you want to test a tofu soup recipe that requires firm or extra-firm tofu cubes or slices, you should always press the tofu.
As firm tofu holds a lot of water and pressing it dries out the slices, so their surface won’t become mushy and stick to the sides of the soup pot.
Many manufacturers have started selling packets with pre-sliced tofu. The pieces have already been pressed and you can add them to your pot straight out of the package.
Even if you’re slicing the tofu yourself, pressing it shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes. You can do it from the comfort of your kitchen even if you don’t have a tofu press.
Wrap the tofu in a clean towel and place it on a larger tray or plate. Weigh down the block with jars, bulkier food packets, or thicker recipe books.
The extra weight will push out the water so that the tofu will lose some of its original thickness.
Pressed cubes are a must for making tofu noodle soup. Also, draining the cubes will make them firmer and crispier when thrown into miso soup.
Store-bought marinated tofu is excellent when you’re in a pinch or want to reduce your cooking time.
However, if you’re looking to gain more cooking experience, you can whip up some tasty homemade marinade and prepare your tofu for soup.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make marinated tofu:
- 12 oz firm or extra-firm cubed tofu
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Soy sauce, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar to taste
- Garlic powder, cornstarch, cayenne powder, or other seasonings of your choice to taste
- Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl until they are evenly blended. Put the tofu cubes into the mix and cover the bowl. Place it into your fridge and leave the tofu to marinate for around 15 minutes. The longer it marinates, the stronger the flavor it will attain.
- Drain the cubes but don’t throw away the liquid. Save it in a separate pot.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the tofu cubes over medium-high heat until the surface becomes soft brown.
- Combine the leftover liquid with the cornstarch and blend until the mixture has a consistent texture. Add this sauce to the frying pan and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
Other popular marinade ingredients to experiment with include fish sauce, chili paste, ginger, and lemon juice.
You can serve the marinated tofu cubes immediately or store them in the fridge for up to seven days and use them for other recipes.
Tofu is technically a pre-cooked ingredient. You can slice it up and add it to your sandwich for a quick bite. But to get the most of your tofu soup, it’s best to boil the tofu cubes.
The tofu will become softer, making its bite tastier and infused with the seasonings in the broth.
Also, the boiling process will drain the tofu of any leftover moisture, so the cubes will retain their shape even when placed in hot soup.
Before adding tofu to your broth, boil it for around 15 minutes in salted water. The salt will add a dash of freshness to store-bought tofu, underscoring its creaminess.
The cubes will turn more supple, allowing sauces and seasoning to penetrate the tofu’s center.
Although it’s recommended that you boil tofu before using it for soups, you can do so for all other recipes too.
Whether you’re making a casserole or using the cubes for a veggie salad, cooked tofu will be fresher and complement the aromas of other ingredients.
Tofu works as an excellent substitute for meat and dairy products, and it takes around 20 minutes to cook when added to soups.
The cooking time may vary depending on the shape you’ve cut the tofu.
You can chop firm tofu into smaller or larger cubes, thinner strips, or longer slices. Also, soft and silken tofu are more delicate, so you shouldn’t cook them for more than 5 minutes.
It’s best to add tofu to the broth in the final 10-20 minutes of cooking. You’ll avoid overcooking the tofu and the soup won’t become watery.
Additionally, this is just enough time for the cubes to soak up the flavor of the broth without losing their signature taste.
Avoid placing the tofu in the pan before you’ve brought the soup to a boil. You don’t want to cook the tofu again, but get it warm enough that its richness comes through.
You don’t have to introduce any changes to your cooking routine to cook silken tofu in soups.
After you’ve brought the soup to a boil, let it simmer for about 10 minutes. You can use this time to prepare your soup topping and garnish and chop up the silken tofu.
Use slow and steady movements to preserve the tofu cubes’ shape. Once the 10 minutes are up, turn off the heat and blend the tofu cubes with your soup.
Most recipes require pressed firm tofu, whether boiled, grilled, or marinated. However, many Asian cuisines have long used silken tofu to substitute for milk and cream cheese.
Silken tofu gives more texture and density to creamy soups and goes well with meat, seafood, and vegetables.
It’s essential to add the tofu to the soup pot after you’ve cooked the soup, as high temperatures can compromise its taste and texture.
You can eat tofu as a quick afternoon snack or add it to veggie salads and casseroles to get some extra protein in your bites.
However, when you use tofu in your soup, you get the best blend of deliciousness and healthiness.
The tofu cubes will keep the soup’s calorie count low, and you’ll be able to enjoy a low-fat meal that will fill your stomach and keep you in a good mood.
My absolute favorite is a Korean tofu soup— spicy kimchi soup with silken tofu, topped with some fresh green onion. I highly recommend starting there!