Make Ahead

Corn Soup with Tofu Larb

August  6, 2014
1 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe begins with a simple corn stock. Corn kernels, onion, and ginger are sautéed, then buzzed into a velvety, smooth soup and topped with larb-style tofu. Larb is a Thai and Laotian preparation of ground meat, but this recipe uses tofu, instead. Did you know you can cook tofu like ground meat? I didn't either, until Mark Bittman wrote about it a few weeks ago (thanks for that Mark!). You simply crumble up the tofu and sauté it until it turns golden brown. I used coconut oil, but you can use any oil you'd like. After the tofu turns GBD (golden brown delicious), it gets tossed with some fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and chili pepper. —Colleen Rose

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Colleen Rose is a gluten-free cook from Somerville, Massachusetts.
WHAT: Hot and spicy tofu larb! Balanced by the sweetness of corn soup.
HOW: You know how to make a velvety corn soup: Blend corn kernels, corn stock, and sautéed onions. Now, start your lesson in larb: Sauté crumbled tofu until it’s golden brown and crispy. Toss with fish sauce, lime juice, and hot chilies, then float this garnish on the cool soup and enjoy the best of both worlds.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Tofu larb, we’re so grateful to know you. We can’t wait to use this crunchy, spicy tofu mixture (with no meat in sight) to top stir-fries, salads, and our favorite summer corn soups. Dinner just got a whole lot more exciting. Thanks, larb! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the corn soup:
  • 8 ears of corn
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems only (reserve the leaves for the larb)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, roughly chop
  • For the tofu larb:
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce/tamari for a vegan recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, finely minced
  • 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies, or more to taste, finely minced.
  1. For the corn soup:
  2. Remove kernels from cobs (this is a great way to do it: Set kernels aside until ready to use.
  3. Place cobs in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let the water simmer for 20 to 30 minutes (which is conveniently how long it will take to brown the tofu and sauté the other soup ingredients). During the last 5 minutes of cooking, throw in the cilantro stems. Strain and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Heat coconut oil in an appropriately sized skillet. Briefly sauté the onions, corn kernels, and ginger until the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add the corn mixture to a Vitamix or another type of blender and add enough corn stock to cover. Purée until the mixture is smooth. Add remaining corn stock and blend. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. [Editors' note: This will result in a very thin soup. You may want to return some of the solids to the soup to add bulk.]
  1. For the tofu larb:
  2. Press tofu with kitchen towels or paper towels to remove excess water. Using your hands, crumble the block into small-ish pieces, about the size of peas.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a skillet large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer. Add tofu and sauté until it turns golden brown. Keep the tofu moving to prevent it from sticking to the pan. The remaining moisture from the tofu will evaporate out, and you'll have a slightly crunchy, finely-textured end product. If desired, drain the tofu on paper towels.
  4. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, if using. Toss with cooked tofu. Fold in cilantro and chili peppers.
  5. Portion soup into bowls. Top with a large spoonful of tofu larb. Garnish with additional cilantro or chili peppers, if desired.
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18 Reviews

carlito March 25, 2015
tofu larb = :D
I have been eating it as lettuce wraps with butter lettuce and chopped green onions, yum! Can't wait for corn to be in season so I can try it with the soup
Colleen R. March 28, 2015
that's an awesome idea! i made the soup with some frozen corn the other day and it wasn't too shabby.
Dina M. September 18, 2014
so pretty! i can't wait to make this!
10 L. September 12, 2014
Congrats! I just made my corn soup a couple weeks back (which is more of a milky broth than a soup) to which I add fresh Oregon shrimp meat or Canadian shrimp meat, avocado and sweet tomatoes. I have been wanting to experiment with tofu (since I have only cooked with it twice) and am so intrigued by this I am going to go buy some and give your soup a try. Is there any particular brand of tofu or style (other than the specified "firm")?
savorthis September 11, 2014
Congrats- love this combo! I make a tofu fritter recipe with corn soup/sauce in the summer and am intrigued by the idea of the larb with crunchy little bits.
Colleen R. September 11, 2014
oh the crunchy good! do you have a recipe for your tofu fritter?
savorthis September 11, 2014
Sure: The fritters also make a good appetizer by themselves or maybe you could use a thickened version of the soup as a dip? I have a vegetarian friend who makes them without the shrimp and bacon...though I am not sure if/how she oomphs the flavor. Maybe fish sauce and lime IN the fritters as you did with the larb.
lmikkel September 11, 2014
Delighted to see that this wonderful recipe is a finalist. We absolutely loved it!
Colleen R. September 11, 2014
thank you!
EmilyC September 11, 2014
Congrats! Love the larb garnish!
Colleen R. September 11, 2014
It's great, isn't it? You can adapt the basic procedure for many other recipes too, Bittman used it as a chorizo substitute. Thank you!
aargersi September 11, 2014
Hurrah I am so glad this is a finalist - congratulations! I made it last week and slurped up every bit of it - soup and larb are each delicious on their own, and double plus that together!
Colleen R. September 11, 2014
I'm so glad you liked it!
witchykitchen September 11, 2014
This looks fantastic! Intrigued by the tofu method.
Colleen R. September 11, 2014
It's a great lil' trick to add to your repertoire!
Laurie August 30, 2014
looks great. Can I make the Larb a day ahead?
Colleen R. August 30, 2014
I haven't tried it, but if I were to make it a day ahead, I would fry off the tofu, but wait to toss it with the liquids until I served it, as I'd be worried the tofu would get soggy. Please report back with your findings!
AntoniaJames August 29, 2014
Enticing! ;o)