Note: You can use plain water to make this soup. But if you feel like using broth, keep in mind that the basic stock that is used in modern Thai cuisine is most commonly made with pork bones or chicken carcasses and not much else. If you use the kind of stock that is made with added onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, etc., it will drastically change the flavor and appearance of this soup. I use plain water; the flavor of the pork and seasoning paste in it as well as the soy sauce and fish sauce which you add later are enough to turn it into a flavorful broth even within such short cooking time.
Please note that, at least traditionally, this is not a stand-alone soup to be eaten on its own, but an entrée to be eaten with rice as part of a typical Thai meal ensemble. I highly recommend a meal of rice, Thai omelet (drizzled with Thai Sriracha), and a bowl of this soup for a simple weeknight meal.
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup finely-chopped cilantro stems or 2 cilantro roots, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
- 1/2 pound ground pork (with 20% fat for maximum flavor)
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 4 1/2 cups water or low sodium homemade broth made with chicken carcasses or pork bones, or low-sodium store bought broth
- 1 pound firm tofu packed in water, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
In a mortar or a small chopper, make a fine paste out of the garlic, cilantro stems/roots, and peppercorns.
Place the ground pork into a mixing bowl and add to it the prepared paste. Add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of fish sauce. Mix until homogenous; set aside.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce to a simmer. Form pork paste into 1-inch balls and gently drop into simmering water. Repeat until all the pork paste is gone. Cook until pork balls float, about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining soy sauce and fish sauce to the broth. Gently add the tofu cubes to the broth; return to a simmer, then add the green onions and remove from heat immediately. Adjust the seasoning as necessary with more fish sauce.
Ladle soup into a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Some freshly-ground white pepper on top is optional, but recommended. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.