My mother used to cook tofu, pork and tomato soup regularly for our family dinner and for anyone visiting from overseas. She believed that it was a great soup to acclimatise one’s stomach to the local foods. Her version of the soup had sliced tofu, pork balls, tomatoes, ginger, slivers of preserved mustard green or Tianjin preserved vegetable (Tianjin dong cai) and fresh herbs. While we loved most of the soups that my mom cooked, my siblings, my eldest brother and I in particular, often protested about the huge amount of coriander and spring onions that she added to her soups. Little did I know that my palate would mature (or desensitised?) over the years and that I would do the same and get the same complaint from my child decades later. Karma and deja vu beautifully rolled into one. Incidentally, deja vu is the WordPress daily prompt.
This soup is quick and easy to make. But embarrassingly, it took my stubborn brain years to get around the fact that I should not boil things to death. During the first few times that I cooked this soup, the carrots were gluggy, slimy and overcooked, the tofu gritty and the soup cloudy and weird tasting. When I finally took my mom’s advice to only simmer the soup and not overcook the tofu, the resulting soup was just sublime. The soup was clear and light tasting; absolutely cooling and nourishing to eat.
To cook the tofu, pork, carrot and tomato soup, start by marinating 250g lean minced pork with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, ½ tsp sugar and a pinch of white pepper. Set aside to marinade for at least 15 minutes. Slice ½ thumb-sized ginger finely. Chop 6 carrots and 2 tomatoes into chunks. Place 10 cups (2.5L or 2¾ quarts) of water in a large soup pot. Add the carrot and half of the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Simmer it for 15 minutes. Use 2 small spoons to form the marinated minced pork into small balls and drop them into the soup. Add the ginger slices. Simmer the soup for another 20 minutes. Skim off the scum on the soup’s surface. Chop 500g of regular/classic tofu (not firm or silken tofu) into small cubes. Wash and chop some spring onions and coriander leaves and stems finely. Place them into the bowls you will be serving the soup in. Add the remaining tomatoes to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tofu cubes into the soup. Stir gently. Simmer for 3-5 minutes and turn off the heat. Serve immediately. Eaten with freshly steamed rice and served with lots of coriander and spring onions, this soup makes a perfect ‘cooling’ and nourishing meal for 5-6 people.