The ever-evolving history of tofu vermicelli soup
Tofu vermicelli soup is a traditional Shanghai soup. It goes beyond its name since it’s more than just tofu and vermicelli.
Decades ago, there were a lot of docks in Shanghai, and many small diners were near the docks, offering dry desserts such as steamed buns. In order to make the food go down easily, they would go down to the river banks and catch some anchovies, a small salty tasting fish.
They would boil the anchovies and turnip in water, and offer the soup to customers for free to drum up business. Therefore, anchovies has been one of the main ingredients of the soup since the beginning.
However, time has changed. Nowadays, people put more ingredients in the soup, including tofu and sometimes even bean curd leaf roll with minced pork and stuffed meat.
Tofu has a lot of protein, and is healthier than meat. People add tofu to the soup to make it more nutritious and tasty. The best tofu has a neutral texture, and is not too soft or too hard. It is sliced into pieces, fried and then put into the soup with anchovies and vermicelli.
The whole dish is soft and has no crunchy stuff inside. It goes down easily, suitable for people who want something not too substantial.