Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk pressed into blocks. Though its manufacture is Chinese in origin, tofu is now a common base in many recipes in Western culture as a replacement for or addition to meat. However, tofu will break down in soups if prepared incorrectly and create an unappealing consistency and texture. If you want to use tofu in soup, follow some basic tips to ensure you do not end up with chunky bean-curd stew instead.
Freeze the tofu prior to making your soup if you would like to have it firmer. Commercial firm tofu will hold up in soup, but can still have a mushy consistency. Frozen tofu will turn yellow, but will return to its normal color and have a firmer consistency when thawed. Allow the tofu to thaw at room temperature for four hours before preparing the soup.
Prepare the soup following the recipe's directions before adding the tofu. Cook the soup for half of the indicated time. For example, if the recipe instructs you to let the soup simmer for two hours, simmer it for one hour.
Place the tofu on a cutting board and slice it into small strips or cubes with a knife. Base the size of the sliced tofu upon personal preference or instructions in the recipe. Tofu slices thinner than a half-inch thick will break apart in the soup.
Add the tofu and allow the soup to finish cooking. Stir the soup gently from this point forward to avoid breaking the tofu into smaller chunks.
Allow leftover soup to cool to room temperature before you refrigerate it for a later meal. This prevents hot spots from forming in the middle of the soup and hosting bacterial growth.