Cabbage and Tofu Soup

This is probably not as popular as egg drop soup, wonton soup and hot and sour soup on the Chinese restaurant circuit, but you will find it offered in most restaurants. It is a very common homemade soup: simple, quick, and tasty, it is the perfect accompaniment or finish to a homecooked meal, particularly one that has some spice in it. You can also make it into a 1-dish meal by using it as a base for a bowl of noodles. The recipe is easily tweaked to become vegan by using water in place of the chicken broth.


  • 3/4 lb napa cabbage (You can also use bok choy, but you will need to increase the cooking time slightly.)
  • 12 oz firm tofu – we prefer Mori-nu brand of the silken variety
  • 1 T oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 qt chicken or vegetable broth (or water) – if you are using canned broth, be sure to buy the low-sodium variety and cut it with water 2 cups each or 1 c broth+3 c water.


  1. Separate the stalks of cabbage and soak them in cool water for 10 m, then drain, rinse, and repeat until no grit sinks to the bottom of the sink or bowl. Cut the cabbage stalks crosswise into 1″ wide ribbons.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1/2″ cubes, then soak them for at least 10 m in salt water (1 T salt to 2 c water) – this will keep them from falling apart. If you are concerned about sodium intake, you can omit this step, in which case be sure to not let the soup boil too rapidly and stir it GENTLY!
  3. Heat the oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers, then add the cabbage ribbons and salt and stirfry quickly for 1 m.
  4. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 4 m.
  5. Drain and add the tofu, return to a simmer.
  6. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

nutritional data:

This recipe serves 4 as part of a larger meal – nutrition information is per serving. I have omitted soaking the tofu in salt water and used 1 c of low-sodium canned chicken broth + 3 c water for the liquid.

  • Total calories 97, calories from fat 50
  • Total fat 6 g, saturated fat 1 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 225 mg
  • Total carbs 4 g, dietary fiber 0 g, sugars 1 g
  • Protein 8 g

2 Responses

  1. Is it more common practice to soak the tofu in salt water? And is this for flavor or texture?

  2. It’s pretty common – because we don’t have any sodium issues in our family, I do it with all my tofu recipes. My theory (it’s just a guess – I welcome some expert input!) is that as with any ingredient (vegetable, meat, etc.), salt will draw out liquid, so it firms up the tofu – in other words a texture issue. It really does keep the tofu, especially the silken type, from disintegrating when you simmer or stir it.

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