The Flavorful Tip For Adding Tempeh To Your Soups

Tempeh, tofu's funkier little cousin, is a plant-based, protein-heavy, gut-health-friendly food to add to your meals — and all you need is a tip or two for how to best prepare it for maximum flavor and texture. Adding it to soups is a slightly less common but delicious way to enjoy the protein source and add some bulk and nutrition to soup recipes. While tempeh can be bland on its own or even have a bitter taste, it also takes on just about any flavor you add to it and truly shines when introduced to liquid — be it via steaming, marinating, etc. So adding it to a soup just makes sense.

Next time you're preparing a soup where you'd like to bulk up the protein and satiety value, toss in some tempeh. Like with tofu, cooking with tempeh is all about the preparation. Start by crumbling it with your hands or dicing it into small chunks — it's up to you the exact size. Then, to really bump up the flavor, sautee the tempeh in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and aromatic, flavorful veggies like onions, garlic, celery, or anything else the soup recipe calls for. Because it essentially acts as a sponge, this seriously ramps up the flavor while softening and cooking the tempeh.

Pre-cooking tempeh adds flavor and removes bitterness

If you've cooked with tempeh before, you're familiar with the inherently bland and bitter bite it can have straight out of the package. This is due to the fermentation process that turns soybeans (or in some cases wheat) into the finished product. But don't let that scare you; it all goes back to that proper preparation, which allows the texture to soften and the bitter taste to dissipate. As you experiment with cooking with tempeh and discover your taste preference, you might detect a hint of lingering bitterness when adding tempeh to your soup. If so, you can take the quick extra step of pre-steaming it first.

Prior to cooking, use a steamer basket to lightly steam the tempeh for 10 or so minutes. To achieve the same result, you can also zap out any remaining bitter taste by microwaving tempeh for five minutes in a microwave-safe bowl of water or dropping it directly into boiling water on the stovetop for 10 minutes. Don't be afraid to experiment and see which method you like better. Once the tempeh is softened and steamed, whichever method you use, it's ready to be sautéed alongside veggies and added to any soup for a delicious, filling meal.