FOOD // Oriental Vegetable Soup

Chinese-style vegetable soup - low calorie, gluten free, vegan friendly

The cold weather seems, this week, to be well and truly drawing in on us - a fact my frozen toes can vouch for as I write! As we settle into the darker, chillier days that lie ahead in the coming months, there is something incredibly inviting about the thought of warming up over a steaming hot bowl of home-made soup for lunch.

A little tired of potatoes, leeks and lentils, I've been getting a tad experimental with my soup-making recently, with this Oriental (is it more Chinese? Japanese? I have no idea!) concoction proving my current favourite success story. I've been using tamarind paste in some Pad Thai-style noodle dishes recently and have become rather fond of its distinctly fruity, slightly sour taste, so felt inspired to incorporate it into a soup base. With the extra fruitiness of the white wine vinegar, contrasted with the saltiness of soy sauce and some ginger and chilli heat, the ingredients combine well to give a delicious, flavoursome, but not overpowering taste.

The following recipe gives me six decent sized bowls of soup and is suitable for vegetarians and can be both vegan-friendly and gluten-free, but be sure to check the labels on your white wine vinegar and soy sauce. 


(Weights of vegetables do not need to be this exact but have been included for a rough idea of proportions.) 

Onion - 180g - finely diced
Garlic - 2 cloves - minced
Chilli flakes - 1/4 teaspoon (or more if you like a bit of heat)
Ginger powder - 1 teaspoon 
Fry Light spray (or alternative oil)
Celery - 130g - diced
Carrot -  80g - julienned (cut into thin strips, yo!) 
Broccoli - 120g - chopped into medium chunks
Savoy cabbage - 220g - roughly shredded 
Optional Dry rice sticks (noodles) - a handful - broken into soup-friendly lengths 
Spring onions - 40g - roughly chopped 
Vegetable stock - 2 stock cubes 
Soy sauce - 1 tablespoon 
White wine vinegar - 2 tablespoons 
Tamarind paste - 1 tablespoon 
Salt, black pepper and coriander - to taste


  1. In a large pan, heat oil (I tend to cook with Fry Light, but you can use whatever best suits) over a medium heat and lightly fry onions, garlic, chilli flakes and ginger powder for around 5 minutes, until the onions are just browned.
  2. Add the celery and fry for another minute or two. 
  3. Add the carrots, broccoli and savoy cabbage, along with the vegetable stock, bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about five minutes. (I dissolved two vegetable stock cubes in boiling water for my stock, but didn't take an exact measurement of water volume: enough to cover all the vegetables and a fraction more!) 
  4. Add the soy sauce, white wine vinegar and tamarind paste; stir; and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are well cooked.  
  5. If you're choosing to include rice sticks (noodles), add these about 5 minutes before the end of cooking. Add the spring onions towards the very end and allow them to cook for a couple of minutes so that they retain a bit of crunch. 
  6. Season with salt, black pepper and coriander to taste and serve. 

Et voila - a speedy, warming, tasty and healthy lunch!

Chinese-style vegetable soup - low calorie, gluten free, vegan friendly


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