Of all the comfort food recipes I have made in my kitchen, tasted, and served on my family’s dinner table, the chicken noodle soup is the most versatile and easily adaptable to any occasion or cooking style. I have made chicken noodle soup before using pasta and now I’m excited to try making a vegan chicken noodle soup with soy curls.
The recipe itself is pretty easy! Aside from being a non-meat, non-dairy soup, it’s also gluten-free, which makes it tummy friendly.
But, before we jump into making this soup, let’s see what benefits it provides, what you can do to improve its’ taste, and which ingredients can be substituted.
If you want skip all this jazz, the recipe is at the bottom of the page 🙂
Chicken Noodle Soup’s Healing Qualities
The world over, a bowl of chicken soup or chicken noodle soup has been a go-to remedy for many ailments. The Chinese call it “yang food” or a dish meant to give warmth and provide therapeutic benefits by adding certain herbs. The ancient Greeks and Babylonians also believed the soup has curative qualities.
Scientists in the Seventies did research into chicken soup’s restorative powers. They found out the broth helps in clearing up nasal congestion, better than drinking hot water spiked with lemon, honey and ginger juice. Meanwhile, another study found that chicken broth helps to thin the mucus in the lungs.
What Makes This Chicken Noodle Soup Vegan?
Instead of strips or chunks of chicken, we will be using soy curls. They’re sold as dry curls, but after soaking in water, they generally “beef up” and look like strips of meat. The texture isn’t as firm as chicken, but they’re chewy enough to make you think you’re eating something meaty.
Soy curls taste bland, so you usually have to cook them in stock/broth or season it before adding them to your soup. However, we don’t need to do that with this one-pot soup recipe. These protein strips take only a few minutes to cook, so it’s better to let it cook in the seasoned broth and allow it to absorb the deliciousness of chicken noodle soup.
Despite their bland taste, soy curls retain the fiber and protein from the soybeans. That’s because they’re made from whole beans — a stark contrast from textured vegetable protein, which was made by pressure-cooking and drying defatted soybean flour.
The bad news is that you won’t be able to find soy curls in supermarket shelves. The best place to buy them is online.
Substitutes for Rotini
The recipe calls for rotini, a type of pasta that has a corkscrew shape, instead of noodles. The grooves help in making the broth stick to the spiral pasta. To make it exciting, try using the tri-colored rotini which are flavored with beet, spinach, and tomato. If rotini isn’t available, use fusilli instead, or perhaps penne or rigatoni. You can even use homemade noodles, like do sometimes.
If pasta isn’t a good fit for your dietary needs, try using noodles made from zucchini, squash, shirataki mushrooms, quinoa, rice, or black beans. There may be minor differences in flavor, but as healthy alternatives, they are definitely worth a try.
- This recipe uses of extra virgin olive oil for sautéing. For oil-free alternative substitute 1/4 cup broth. This would be in addition to the broth amount listed in the ingredients.
- Vegetable broth can be replaced with imitation chicken broth, but it will affect the final flavor.
- Rotini can be replaced with another pasta of choice.
- Soy curls can be found in some health foods stores or online. If you do not have access to them, replace them with 8 ounces of diced tofu, chickpeas or another meat substitute.