What is so special about this soup?
Vietnamese Eggplant & Tomato Soup (Canh Cà Bung) is a classic Northern Vietnamese dish. It’s so popular because of the use of cheap, accessible ingredients and surprisingly easy yet flavourful. The traditional Canh Cà Bung uses pork, in this vegan version it is replaced by king oyster mushroom. The rest of the soup uses traditional ingredients: eggplants, tomatoes, fried tofu and perilla leaves.
What can I substitute for perilla leaves?
You can find perilla leaves at the Asian supermarkets, it gives a unique flavour profile: sharp, minty and nutty aroma. It is also known as sesame shiso or lá tía tô (in Vietnamese). This is a popular herb commonly used in Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese cuisine, it is high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. If you do not have access to perilla leaves, you can substitute for sesame leaves, Thai basil or mint.
Vietnamese Eggplant and Tomato Soup (Canh Cà Bung Chay)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 eggplant
- 150 g king oyster mushroom can substitute with shiitake mushroom or other type of mushroom
- 200 g fried tofu I buy pre-fried tofu puffs to save time, but you can also fry it yourself (see recipe notes)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp curry powder
- perilla leaves
- Finely chop the garlic. Slice the king oyster mushroom into thin slices. Cut the tomatoes and eggplants in bite-sized pieces.
- On a pot on medium heat, add some oil and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Add in the king oyster mushroom and stir until softened, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and eggplant, mix well.
- Add in the seasoning: salt, pepper, turmeric powder, and curry powder. Mix well, then add the fried tofu cubes.
- Add enough water to cover all the ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer with the lid on, for about 15 minutes.
- Thinly chop the perilla leaves.
- After simmering, add perilla leaves (save some for garnish) and mix together. Season to taste.
- Remove from heat and serve in a bowl, add the optional garnish (perilla leaves) and enjoy with a bowl of rice.