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Vietnamese Tomato-Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Tomato-Noodle Soup

Here's a warming noodle soup. So good yet I've never seen it available in any restaurant. Then The Wonder Woman introduced it to me and now it's one of my all-time favourite dishes. It's called soup but there's not much liquid in it, as you can see from the photo. Very satisfying.

The Wonder Woman says this is a modified version. The original recipe uses meat from small crabs. Just another way to use every bit of the crab.

Like a lot of Asian dishes, this needs lots of prep up front then the cooking time is fairly short.

This recipe is enough for 3 - 4 large bowls. And these bowls really are larger than your typical soup bowl.

Some ingredients

Soup ingredients

  • peanut oil for frying
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 250 g ground pork (1/2 lb) (optional)
  • 2 x 160 g cans of chopped shrimp or crab with spices (we use one of each). Use only one can if you want a taste that's not as strong, but we like two.
  • 1.5 l water (6 cups)
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 egg, broken into a bowl and gently mixed (optional)
  • 125 ml coriander leaves, washed and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 125 ml bean sprouts (1/2 cup)
  • 5 ml fish sauce (1 tsp) or to taste

More ingredients

Toppings for the bowl

  • 200 g rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for several hours
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • 1 head of leaf lettuce
  • 100 g bean sprouts (1/4 lb)
  • tofu puffs, 4 - 5 puffs per bowl, prepared as below (optional)
  • shrimp, 4 - 5 per bowl, depending on size, prepared as below (optional)

Cans of spiced prawns

Shrimp just about finished frying


Here's how to prepare the best fried shrimp you'll ever have. We purchase frozen shrimp that are of size 31 - 40 per pound, uncooked with the shell on. Those are the most flavourful. Defrost the shrimp in a bowl of cold water on the countertop. After defrosting, shell them. Put the meat back into the bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Let them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Start the frying pan on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a bit of oil and add the shrimp. Saute for a short time. Turn the shrimp once. Remove the shrimp to a plate once it's just turned pink. It's important to not overcook the shrimp. Otherwise they'll be tough and rubbery.

Take the shrimp out of the pan, place them on a plate then set them aside until assembling the soup.

Bow-Tie Calico inspects the tofu puffs before they're put under the broiler

Tofu puffs

Rinse the tofu puffs in warm water to get rid of the oil. Drain. Slice the puffs in half, season them with some garlic powder and salt and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast lightly under a broiler until crisp and barely turning brown. Remove from the broiler and set them aside until you put the soup together.

Make the soup broth

Heat a wok or deep frying pan over medium high heat. Add some peanut oil when the pan is hot. Add the garlic to the wok and saute for a short time.

Add the ground pork if using. Break it up and fry until it's no longer pink.

Garlic and a can of spiced prawns

Add a can of spiced shrimp and stir and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the water and the second can of spiced shrimp or crab. Cover and bring to a boil.

Just after adding the tomatos

Add the tomatoes. Return the soup to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Adding the coriander

Add the bean sprouts, the coriander and the egg. Stir gently to mix the egg into the broth. Bring everything back to a boil and it's ready to serve.

Ready for the bowl


  1. Place the rice noodles in the bowls.
  2. Pour the soup broth on top.
  3. Arrange lettuce leaves, shrimp, tofu puffs, sprouts and lime wedges on top.


Serve with a spoon and chopsticks (or fork). Squeeze the lime wedges into the soup and dig in. Have your favourite hot sauce available for those who like it spicy!


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