Thukpa is a hearty noodle based soup commonly eaten throughout the Himalayan region in countries such as Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan & also the northern most Indian states (Sikkim, Ladakh & Arunchal Pradesh). Traditionally, thukpa is usually made with meat but I have made my recipe completely vegetarian by using tofu instead. So feel free to add hard boiled eggs, shrimp/seafood, chicken or your favorite meats or vegetables to the soup. This versatile recipe works well with just about anything, just note that cooking times may vary accordingly. Now this soup is on the spicy side but do feel free to decrease the spiciness to suit your palate.
Tofu is actually bean curd and although not very Indian in origin, it has become a large part of the global diet. Tofu is a very rich source of protein, iron and calcium. It is low calorie, low in fat and contains absolutely no cholesterol. Tofu is a great food source for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Basically, any variety of Asian noodle will work well in this soup - so rice noodles, egg noodles, mung bean noodles… any type is fine.
THUKPA (Spicy Himalayan Noodle Soup with Tofu)
½ lb of Asian noodles (about 7-8 ounces)
1 cup of diced extra firm tofu (you can lightly pan fry the tofu if you like)
2 cups of vegetables (I used baby corn, edamame, snow peas, mushrooms & bean sprouts), trimmed & prepared
¼ cup freshly chopped green onion (spring onion or scallion)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
1-2 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp ground cumin powder
¼ red chili powder, to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground star anise
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
5-6 cups vegetable stock (or water), as needed
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ to 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (or sambal olek or any spicy chili sauce), to taste
juice of ½ lime
pinch red chili flakes
1 tbsp ghee or butter + 1 tbsp oil (peanut, canola or vegetable)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large soup pot on medium heat, add the ghee & oil. When hot, add the onions along with the ginger, garlic & green chilies. Lightly sauté for a few minutes and then add all of the spices (bay leaf, ground coriander powder, ground cumin powder, red chili powder, ground cinnamon, ground star anise, ground cardamom powder, nutmeg, salt & pepper). Let the spices cook for a minute or so until aromatic & fragrant. Next, add the vegetable broth, soy sauce & sriracha sauce. Stir well to combine, cover, reduce the heat to low & let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the noodles according to their package instructions, cook them until just “al dente” (Italian for “to the tooth”) -- do not overcook. Try to cook the noodles just before use, set aside until needed.
The soup stalk should be very aromatic & flavorful. Now add the noodles, tofu & vegetables. Let simmer for another 8-10 minutes. If you need a little more liquid in the soup, just add some vegetable stock or water. Lastly, finish the dish by adding the lime juice, green onions & red chili flakes. Stir well to combine, garnish with the cilantro leaves & serve piping hot.