A vegan laksa is the perfect comfort dish filled with aromatics, veggies, noodles, and tofu in a full-bodied coconut milk broth. All the different colours, flavours, and textures in one bowl make it a great balanced dish.
Laksa is a spiced noodle soup from Southeast Asia. It’s very popular in Malaysia and Singapore; however, you’ll also find it in Indonesia and southern Thailand.
I’ve always had a soft spot for a good laksa. If it’s on the menu, I’ll typically order it. My local vegan Thai restaurant makes the best one I’ve ever had. But, you know, at $18 a pop, I wanted to make my own, so I could enjoy it more often and not have to fuss about their opening hours.
It’s always good to have your favourite dishes in your recipe arsenal to create whenever your cravings call for. This is why I’m sharing this recipe with you, so you too, can have that now.
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What’s in a laksa paste, and why it’s not vegan
The thing with a laksa is that it can vary so much from recipe to recipe. Some are more of a curry base, and others are a broth base. It just comes down to personal preference.
What you’ll find in most is meat or seafood with a prawn head stock. In the paste itself, there would typically be shrimp or shrimp paste.
I’ve bulked it up with lots of delicious and colourful veggies, spices, and crispy tofu chunks to make this vegan.
These are the ingredients you’ll find in this vegan laksa paste:
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh turmeric
- Cumin powder
- Tamari sauce
- Fresh chilli pepper
- Cilantro stems
I’ve tried to use accessible ingredients that you’ll find in any well-stocked supermarket.
How to use and prepare lemongrass?
I wanted to emphasise lemongrass for just a minute.
If you’re like me and haven’t used it much in your cooking, it can be a little intimidating. So, to give you some reassurance and confidence that you’ll get this right, here are a few things to keep in mind when using it.
The soft, inner, white part of the stalk will go into the paste. The rest is super hard and fibrous and not ideal for eating. Save it for stock or tea.
Cut down the lemongrass to about 3-4 inches long. This part has the most flavour and is softer than the rest. Trim off the hard base and peel back a leaf or two that’s pretty tough and stringy.
Now all you have to do is chop it finely into disks and add it to your food processor with the other ingredients!
Want another recipe to use fresh lemongrass in? Try my lemongrass tofu and Vietnamese noodle bowl salad!
Topping options for this vegan laksa soup
The toppings can vary greatly, just as much as the broth. You can include so many different things.
Here’s a few additional toppings that I haven’t included in mine; as I went pretty over the top, I couldn’t fit them all!
- Snow peas
- Scallions/green onions/spring onions
- Baby corn
- Bamboo shoots
- Sweet potato
- Bok choy
- Green beans
- Other types of noodles
- Crushed peanuts
The options are endless. This is a great way to use up the veggies you have in your fridge and play around with flavour combinations.
Tips for making the best vegan laksa
- If you want to speed up the process for next time you want laksa, make a double batch of the laksa paste and broth and freeze half of it for later. That way your soup can be ready in 15 minutes flat!
- You can adjust the heat to your liking by leaving or removing the seeds from the red chilli used.
- It’s important to fry off the spices in the laksa paste for the flavours to develop and to caramelise. You want to cook the rawness out of it.
- Be careful not to burn the paste as it can become bitter.
- If you have kefir lime leaves, you can add them to the broth while it cooks for another dimension of flavour and add that extra acidity before finishing it off with lime juice when serving.
- Use a small food processor or even a mortar and pestle instead of a blender as you’ll need too much liquid to blend it properly, diluting the paste concentrate. It would take much longer to fry it off.
- The noodles and vegetables in this soup are interchangeable.
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Vegan Noodle Bowl (Gluten-Free)
- Summer Kelp Noodle Salad
- Cauliflower Potato Curry with Coconut Milk
- Easy Vegan Red Lentil Soup
- 30-Minute Vegan Buddha Bowls (Three Ways)
- Vegan Bún Chay Noodle Bowl (Vietnamese Noodle Salad)
- Healthy Vegan Congee (Savoury Rice Porridge)
If you try this recipe, let me know. We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4
A vegan laksa with the lot. Veggies, noodles, and tofu in a spicy coconut broth. A perfect comfort meal that you’ll never get sick of eating!
- 1 medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk / 25g fresh lemongrass, roughly chopped
- 1 inch / 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon tamari sauce (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
- Cilantro stems (from cilantro used for serving below)
- 1 red chilli pepper, sliced
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil*
- 1 can / 400ml full-fat coconut milk (please don’t use lite or reduced-fat)
- 2½ cups / 625ml vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
- 200g / 7 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 1 bunch broccolini
- 1 medium-sized carrot, diagonally sliced
- 200g / 7 ounces flat rice noodles (or vermicelli noodles)
- 5 bunches (50g / 1.76 ounces) cilantro / coriander, stems & leaves separated (stems are used in the laksa paste)
- 100g / 3.5 ounces mung bean sprouts
- 3 tablespoons fried shallots
- 1 lime, quartered
- In a small food processor, add the onion, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, cumin, garlic, tamari, cilantro stems, half of the chilli and a tablespoon of water to loosen the mix. Process until smooth. You may need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides.
- To a large heavy-bottomed pot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and allow to heat up on medium-high heat. Scrape in your paste and cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure it doesn’t catch or burn. Allow it to reduce and brown. You want all the liquid to evaporate.
- Next, add in the coconut milk, stock, sugar, and salt. Partly cover the pot and reduce to simmer for 12 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet (frying pan). Add your tofu cubes and fry on each side for about 2 minutes, adding the tamari to the pan halfway through the process. Partly cover your pan if you’re concerned about oil splatter. Once brown and crispy, take off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- To a medium pot of boiling water, add the broccolini and carrot – cook for 7 minutes. Then, remove them from the water into a bowl with a slotted spoon and set them aside to cool. You can use that same water for cooking your noodles to packet instructions. Drain and run the noodles under cold water and let them drain once finished.
- Now you’re ready to assemble. In four medium-sized wide bowls, divide your noodles. Next, ladle on your soup base, and top with the broccolini, carrot, tofu, mung bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, fried shallots, the other half of the sliced chilli and a wedge of lime to squeeze over each bowl.
Oil: We used sesame oil, but other great substitutes are coconut oil or rice bran oil.
If you want to speed up the process for next time you want laksa, make a double batch of the laksa paste and broth and freeze half of it for later. That way your soup can be ready in 15 minutes flat!
- Diet: Vegan
Absolutely delicious laksa! I regularly make laksas but with the store bought paste. This was the first time I made the paste from scratch and the first time I’d used fresh tumeric and was definitely worth it! So yummy. I added bok choy and mushrooms which are some of my favs! The sauce is spicy for a toddler – so next time I’ll try it without and stick with adding chilli at the end.
Also, I think my sauce reduced too much so need to reduce the temp a lot. My gas stove tends to cook hot. I had to add more liquid.
Otherwise so yummy and my guests loved it! So winner all round.
Awww, thanks so much for the lovely review, Cynthia! xx