Vegan Sunflower Soup Recipe
This past weekend my aunt and uncle came over. We have family get-togethers fairly often and we try out new recipes during these gatherings regularly. Thankfully, my family and friends have been quite supportive of my decision to go vegan. My uncle Steve is especially understanding as he was a vegetarian for many years. Because of this he's also quite adept at reworking recipes to make them either vegetarian or vegan. He's always been very into ethnic cooking as well; I largely credit my aunt and him for introducing me to so many different types of foods and different cuisines.
I should mention here, I was a terribly picky eater as a child. I mean, absolutely abysmally picky. Most of my rather monochromatic meals consisted of potatoes, pasta, or rice with some butter, perhaps with a side of chicken tenders and possibly some cheese on occasion. I'd often flat-out refuse to try new foods. By contrast, my family was very adventurous with food. They were always frequenting restaurants of various different cuisines; Indian, Thai, Vietnamese... You name it. Every time we went somewhere I would usually give my poor parents a hard time and refuse to eat anything that wasn't a bland carb.
Eventually my aunt and uncle had enough of my stubborn pickiness and refusal to try new things. My aunt can be a rather militant and intimidating woman when she really wants to be; so when she tells me to do something, I damn well listen. So, after some mild coercion on my aunt's part and a great deal of petulant whining on my part, I relented and started gradually trying new things. I distinctly remember going to an Indian restaurant for the first time and trying palak paneer. I must have been around eight years old at the time. It looked absolutely terrible to me the first time I laid eyes on it, but I ended up absolutely loving the dish. From that moment on, my aunt implemented the no-nonsense rule that I was allowed to not like something, but I had to at least try it. I also was absolutely not allowed to say "Ew! This is gross!", instead I was to hold my composure and say "thank you, but I do not care for it prepared this way".
Clearly, if it weren't for my aunt and uncle teaching me proper manners I would be an absolute barbarian.
Nowadays, I'm thankfully far more adventurous with food and absolutely love trying new cuisines.
Now, back to the creation of this recipe. My uncle Steve used to make this dish that I absolutely loved as a kid. He always called it "sunflower soup". It's quite similar to tom kha gai, a Thai coconut milk-based soup. However this variation contains curry powder, which not only gives it a wonderful flavor, but also a gloriously cheerful color. Traditionally he always made it with chicken, but this past weekend he was suggested we try to veganize it. So we put our heads together and this recipe was born.
I seriously couldn't be happier with the results. It's just as satisfying and delicious as the version I grew up eating.
This recipe also gets even better as it sits. The flavors of the ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime will intensify in the broth, therefore this tastes even better on the second day. I ate it as is the day it was made, then the next day I served the leftover soup with some cooked rice noodles and red cabbage for added crunch. It was absolutely amazing. I strongly advise trying this. Do it.
Without further delay, here's the recipe. The full recipe will be typed out down below, but if you would like a printable version, click here.
Remember to tag me on Instagram if you try this out, @bitchy_baker. Thanks for reading! Take care. <3
Yield: 6-8 servings
Time: About 45 minutes total
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cans coconut milk (13.5 fluid ounces each)
4 kaffir lime leaves (find in specialty Asian food stores)
3 1-inch pieces fresh lemongrass
4 roughly quarter sized slices fresh ginger
1 small sliced onion
2 tablespoon shiro miso paste (*see note*)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons good - quality curry powder
1 teaspoon thai chili paste (may sub sriracha, adjust to taste)
vegetables of choice (peppers, mushrooms, carrots, green beans go great with this)
1 block tofu - cut into half inch cubes
2 - 3 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
a few leaves of fresh Thai basil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves - roughly chopped
garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro, fresh basil, chili flakes, scallions, etc.
To a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the vegetable stock, coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, sliced onion, miso paste, sugar, curry powder, and chili paste. Bring to a boil before covering and reducing heat to low, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet. Fry the tofu until lightly browned. Move around every minute or so until almost all the tofu cubes have some good color. Add the tofu, along with your vegetables of choice to the soup and allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes or so.
Right before serving, add the sliced scallions, lime juice, thai basil, and fresh cilantro to the soup. Taste to check the seasoning, add more salt, chili paste, or lime juice if you feel it needs it. You can also add more curry powder if you want.
Serve soup with extra lime wedges, scallions, basil, cilantro, chili flakes, etc. Garnish however you'd like. Enjoy!
P.S. Be careful to pick the kaffir lime leaves, ginger and lemongrass out of your bowl before eating. They're unpleasant to get a large mouthful of. I personally prefer to leave them in the pot though as they provide extra flavor to the leftovers.
The miso paste is a substitute for fish sauce. Fish sauce has a rather salty "umami" flavor. Miso also has this flavor and made for a decent stand-in. However, if you can find it, you can also sub in vegan 'fish' sauce if you can find it or another ingredient that has a salty umami flavor. If you're allergic to soy, perhaps try coconut aminos and some extra salt, or perhaps a chickpea miso paste.
This dish gets better the longer it sits and is therefore even better leftover. I personally enjoy serving my leftover soup over some cooked rice noodles with some extra tofu on top. I also like garnishing my noodles with some red cabbage for crunch and color!