Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheap Eats: Vegan Bachelor Soup

The Topic: Eating on the cheap with Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria

The Dish: Virgil once wrote,"Fortune favors the brave," and he could not have been more right—especially when it comes to dining inexpensively (which, I'm sure, is exactly what he had in mind at the time). Should fear rob you not only of delicious meals, but also of your cold, hard cash? Heck no! Go boldly into your kitchen, like you've never gone before! (Really, if anyone comes to mind when you think of Virgil, it's Shatner.)

I was richly rewarded by inquiring once about what my friend Joelle was eating. Joelle is something of a culinary genius, and is the embodiment of fearlessness in the kitchen. She'll put spirulina on anything. She'll whip up seitan in five minutes flat. Sometimes she'll get a little extra crazy and create something truly magical, and sometimes—very rarely—she'll wind up with a dud. But, that's the cost this culinary adventurer pays for all her stellar successes. So, she was once dining on a bowl of soup that looked, well, sort of like what you'd expect to find floating along the coast during a red tide. When I asked her what it was, she said, "Bachelor soup. It's my specialty." The "bachelor" part comes from the fact that this dreamy dish takes all of three minutes to make, and can be eaten straight from the pot while standing over the stove, like a barbarous bachelor. She was generous enough to share some with me, and ever since, I've been hopelessly hooked. I could eat this garnly looking soup day and night for the rest of my life.

Joelle's Bachelor Soup

Serves 1

What You Need:
6 cups water
1/2 tablespoon Tom Yum paste
1/2 cup frozen rice cakes
1/8 cup dried seaweed (we like wakame)
8 ounces tofu (or 1/2 asceptic package)
1/2 cup vegetable stock

What You Do:
  1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add Tom Yum paste and rice cakes, and boil for 1 minute.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add seaweed, tofu, and vegetable stock, and simmer for 2 minutes, or until seaweed is soft. Serve in a bowl, if you must.
The Final Word: The seaweed is easily the most expensive item in this soup, and that can be lessened by buying in bulk from your local health-food store. Check the "ethnic" section of any major grocery store to find Tom Yum paste, or head to your local Asian grocery. Be bold. Enjoy this awesome, cheap soup. See if luck doesn't find you.


  1. I have to say it. I'm not vegan. But, I do find myself camping out on Joelle's door step, like some obsessed fan, tapping on the window with my fingers in a defined tempo, chanting "open. open. open." I could hook up an IV and absorb this soup all day -- it is THAT good people. If soup crack had a name, it would be The Bachelor Soup. To the good people of VegNews. Pretty please, post her Vegan Pancakes. I'm confident the inner child in all of us would thank you, again.

  2. I haven't been able to find tom yum paste that doesn't contain shrimp or fish sauce. Any ideas?