Vietnamese tofu soup

This is a simplified version of A Vietnamese Canh chua (sour soup). A great light soup for a multi-course meal.

Serves: 4



  • 1 meaty chicken carcass
  • 1 oz dried shrimp, soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3” Fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbls Nuoc Mam (fish sauce)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 Cups water
  • sea salt


  • 2 cups (4oz dry) shitake mushrooms, soaked in water for 25 minutes.
  • 1 Tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, cut into fine strips
  • 2 Thai chilies, seeded and cut into fine strips
  • 1.5” fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 Tblsp Nuoc Mam (mixed fish sauce)*
  • 12 oz tofu, rinsed drained and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned seeded and cut into strips
  • Salt ad pepper
  • Fresh Cilantro leafs for garnish


  • Stock pot
  • Mesh strainer
  • Large pot or wok
  • ladle
  • measuring cup



  1. Place chicken* in soup pot and add 8 cups of water
  2. Drain and rinse shrimp and add to pot.
  3. Add all remaining stock ingredients except for salt.
  4. Bring to boil, boil for a few minutes and skim off any foam.
  5. Reduce to simmer and place lid on pot.
  6. Cook 1.5 - 2 hours
  7. Remove lid and simmer an additional half hour.
  8. Skim off fat, add dissolve salt and strain into large container.
  9. Measure out 6.25 cups for this recipe.


  1. Drain shiitake mushrooms and squeeze out extra liquid. remove stems and cut into strips (set aside)
  2. Heat oil in large pot or wok add shallots, chilies, and ginger.
  3. As they become fragrant, add Nuoc Mam followed by stock.
  4. Add tofu, mushrooms and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Cilantro.

What you should know

Fast tracking stock:

Tie shrimp, onions, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick in cheese cloth bundle. Add to 8 cups low sodium chicken stock along with Nuoc Mam. Cook for about 20 minutes to half hour. Remove bundle and continue with recipe.

Nuoc Mam can be found in most asian markets. Vital to most Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. It smells terrible, but it’s flavor is not offensive. It’s salty, fermented flavor can be much more subtle than you would expect.

1.25 lbs. pork ribs can be substitued for chicken for a nice authentic alternative.

Click here for more satisfying soup recipes.

Re: Vietnamese tofu soup

Delicious. I followed your instructions to the letter. It took me about 20 minutes to prep and 3 hours with cooking. My apartment smelled great. Very easy and very very good.

Re: Vietnamese tofu soup