Last weekend everyone in the house had a cold. Even the cat was sneezing. I had set aside most of Sunday for recipe testing, but as my sniffly self read through my list of recipes-in-progress, nothing really sounded good. What I needed, and what was missing from my list, was something that was nutritious, hydrating AND comforting. If only humans had invented such a food… oh wait, they have! It goes by the name of chicken noodle soup and it’s proffered by caring grandmas everywhere. In this vegan version, I’ve ditched the chicken in favor of chewy baked tofu pieces.
This tofu noodle soup is super easy. It’s almost a one pot meal, except for the whole pre-baking the tofu thing. The pasta cooks directly in the pot with the broth. We are eating gluten-free around here more often than not at the moment, so I tested this recipe with brown rice macaroni. Regular ole’ glutenous pasta, broken into bite size pieces if applicable, will also work.
A cool thing about cooking the pasta IN the soup is that the starches from the pasta thicken the soup a little bit. It’s still pleasantly brothy, but with a natural cornstarch-esque glossiness. This nicely makes up for the, erm, natural thickening properties of certain ingredients in a non vegan chicken noodle soup. No need to go into the macabre details 🙂
In creating this vegan tofu noodle soup, I used a mixture of olive oil with just a little bit of coconut oil to improve the mouthfeel. To the broth, I also added some soy sauce and nutritional yeast, to make up for the umami flavor lost to making this meatless. And finally, to give the tofu more of an irregular shape, I smashed it slightly before chopping it into chunks that I then roasted. We felt like this gave it a little more of a “classic” look, but it’s totally optional.
Aside from that, the ingredients probably look familiar to you. Just go into zen mode chopping a few veggies and your vegan chicken noodle soup alternative will be ready in no time. Packed with veggies, vitamins, fiber, and protein too, this is a comforting vegetarian soup for colds, or just for somebody who wants a tasty bowl of food 🙂
Tofu Noodle Soup (Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup)
A vegetarian spin on chicken noodle soup, this tofu noodle soup is warming, comforting, and flavorful. Plus, it can easily be made gluten-free!
- 1 14-oz. block extra-firm tofu drained and pressed
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup sliced carrot (peeled if desired)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper (or additional black pepper)
- 8 cups vegan chicken-style broth (or use any vegetable broth or stock)
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 8 oz. brown rice elbows (scant 2 cups) (or pasta of choice, broken into bite-sized pieces if applicable)
- salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp; add it gradually)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Open the tofu package, drain the excess liquid, and press the tofu while the oven reheats. (Either use a tofu press, or wrap the tofu in a clean towel and stack something heavy on top of it).
Press down on the tofu to "squish" it up into more irregular shape, then roughly chop it. (Optional; feel free to just cube it if you prefer). Place the tofu pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then agitate and flip the tofu pieces. Bake for another 15-25 minutes, or until the tofu pieces have firmed up significantly, with a slightly crisped crust on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside.
(I start this step when the tofu has about 10 minutes left in the oven). In a large saucepan, heat the oils over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. If the vegetables start to brown, turn down the heat to medium-low. Continue until the onions and celery are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, black pepper and white pepper and stir. Cook until fragrant, 60 to 90 seconds. Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, pasta, and baked tofu pieces. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, or until the pasta is tender.
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve topped with fresh thyme or parsley, if desired.
BROTH: The broth concentrate that I linked in the ingredients list is the main vegetarian broth that I keep around in my pantry. I like the flavor and ingredients, as compared to other brands. I generally focus on finding brands without added sugar.
Adapted from this non-vegan classic chicken noodle soup
More comforting and hydrating soups from the site: