Though spring may not be too far away, it’s still soup season here in Minnesota. And when we need a break from the beef barley, chicken noodle, and favorite chilis, there are vegetable-based soups waiting in line.
Using soy in your soup will help keep the protein up as well as bring antioxidants such as genistein—which has been shown to promote healthy hearts and possibly prevent cancers—to your diet. Soy protein, as well, has been linked to improved heart health as well as possible prevention against certain types of cancers.
You could use soymilk to add creaminess to a soup, but tofu is another option. Made from curdled soymilk, tofu can have multiple personalities, depending on the type purchased. Silken—or Japanese-style—tofu has had less water pressed from it, so is softer and best used in pureed recipes such as dips and puddings. It’s packed in aseptic brick-style packages that can be stored at room temperature until opened. Chinese-style tofu is firmer than silken and sold water-packed in tubs that need to be refrigerated even before opening. Because it’s firmer, it works especially well in stir-fries, pasta dishes, salads, and other recipes where it’s important for tofu to hold its shape. Using the wrong tofu for the wrong recipe can mean a cream soup with unpalatable lumps or a stir-fry with crumbled soy.
Soups, then, often call for silken tofu. Once opened, silken tofu should be refrigerated and used within five or so days. Because it has no flavor of its own, tofu readily absorbs whatever flavors it’s paired with. In the recipe below, tofu takes on the savory flavors of sautéed carrots, onion, and garlic as well as the spicy ginger. Pureed with these ingredients, tofu becomes lighter and airier, almost foamy. It’s a simple soup that could easily pass itself off as high-end restaurant fare. A simple garnish of chopped green herbs adds another bright flavor note as well as a splash of color.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper or ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh gingerroot
1/2 (10-ounce) package soft silken tofu, drained
2 cups chicken broth
Chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or other favorite herb
In large saucepan, heat oil. Add carrots and onion; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until browned. Add wine and garlic; cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes longer or until vegetables are softened. Transfer mixture to blender container. Add remaining ingredients except for herbs; cover. Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down side of container as needed.
Return soup to saucepan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until heated through. Divide among serving bowls. Sprinkle with herbs. Makes 4 (1-cup) servings.