This soup was an unexpected hit! I made it for lunch on a cold day, and I thought it was delicious; what was unexpected is that the Little Prince asked for seconds, and then thirds! For him, I put mostly solids in his bowl (including cut-up noodles), with only a little broth. I’d definitely make this again! Just make sure to store leftovers separately (i.e. tofu, noodles, and broth in individual containers) and only assemble and garnish prior to serving.
For the tofu
1 14-oz. package of firm tofu (this needs to be drained, so note the extra time in the directions)
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
For the sofrito
2 stalks of lemongrass (peel off the outside layer and quickly chop the tender centers of the stalks)
2 Fresno red chilies, seeded and deveined (I omitted those)
2-3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and quickly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 large shallot, quickly chopped
¼ cup water
1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce
For the soup
1 ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 14.5-oz. can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 quart chicken broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/3 cup lime juice (about 1 ½ limes)
10 oz. udon noodles
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
To drain the tofu, wrap it in paper towels and set it on a plate. Place another plate on top to help press out the water. Let the tofu drain for about an hour. Mix together your honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil to make a marinade for the tofu. After draining for one hour, cut the tofu into 1″ cubes, place in a bowl or dish and pour in the marinade. Gently toss and allow it to sit while you prep all the other ingredients for the soup.
Put all the sofrito ingredients in a food processor (lemongrass, chilies, ginger, garlic, water, fish sauce, and shallot) and purée them together. Set aside.
In a bowl, gently whisk together all of the soup base ingredients except for the oil (coconut milk, peanut butter, chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice). Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Put in the sofrito and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Once it smells really fragrant and sweet, add in the coconut milk/broth mixture. Bring to a low simmer and cook the soup for 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring another large pot of water to a boil. Cook the udon noodles until they are al dente, then drain them.
While you’re doing that, heat a large non-stick pan over high heat. Add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. Carefully add your tofu cubes to the pan using a pair of tongs. Sauté the tofu until it’s nice and golden brown on all sides. Transfer the tofu to a plate and set aside.
Stir the soup well; ladle it into bowls and add in some noodles. Top with tofu, cilantro, and the thinly sliced shallot. Drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil and serve immediately.