Red-Hot Thai Tomato Soup

My favorite soup from one of my favorite downtown spots: Bluebird Kitchen.

Photo by Leah Lizarondo


Almost 40 percent of the calories Americans consume come from fast food. A staggering 83 percent of Americans eat at their desk. I am picturing someone chained to the computer screen all day, quickly scarfing down a double burger and fries and then finishing it off with a soda. Herein lies one of the factors that has brought us to the point where more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, putting them at risk of “lifestyle” diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

I hate to moralize, but this is the truth, and even though you may have seen this a million times, I am hoping that seeing these stats might inspire you to start eating a little healthier today.

You might think that this has nothing to do with you because you opt for grilled chicken and diet soda at lunchtime. But those are often not any better. Especially if the sandwich came from a chain restaurant. Despite the leafy icon on the menu, you’ll be eating a highly processed, chemical-laden shadow of a real grilled-chicken sandwich.

But I have a confession.

I eat fast food. At my desk. I have no choice sometimes when I work downtown. I only have a few hours to sit at a desk before I need to run off to a meeting or see clients. My days are rarely spent sitting down.

But hold on. Fast food doesn’t have to be bad for you. There is one place downtown that I feel is the embodiment of what “fast food” should be. That’s Bluebird Kitchen.

Bluebird Kitchen is fast in every way that you need it to be. You get in line, pick your food, pack it up or eat there. No waiting. Fast.

But it’s also slow in every way that it should be: freshly made soups, salads, sandwiches, entrées and — my favorite of all — daily rotating choices of whole grain and vegetable sides that are absolutely to die for.

They always have about three or four side options — think farro, quinoa, barley. Black beans, fava, chickpeas. Beets, Brussels sprouts, haricot verts. It is hard for me not to geek out. I get so excited and often look around to see if everyone is just as excited as I am. People usually are practicing more self-control. I might as well be wearing a pocket protector.


Did I mention that Bluebird has a baker churning out all manner of freshly baked goods? I order entirely too much whenever I'm there.

Word to the wise: Be careful of the fresh-cut, house-fried potato chips. They cause your pants to shrink. I made a New Year’s resolution to just have one order of chips per week.

All this delicious goodness and I am in and out of there as fast as if I had I gone to McDonald’s. Bluebird Kitchen is your best bet downtown for a quick, artful, healthy and delicious lunch.

A highlight is the Thai Tomato Soup. I swooned when I first tasted it. Far from downtown or unable to get out for lunch? You can make it at home. It's the perfect time to remember summer by breaking out some of the tomatoes you canned or stuck in the freezer. This soup is silky, spicy if you want it to be, and the little bites of tofu are the perfect foil to its sultry flavor and texture.

It's optimum for a wintry Valentine’s Day.


  Red-Hot Thai Tofu Tomato Soup

Recipe courtesy of Bluebird Kitchen


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large stalks lemongrass, chopped
  • 2 fennel bulbs, chopped (fronds reserved for garnish)
  • 4 28-oz cans San Marzano peeled whole tomato
  • 2 14-oz cans coconut milk
  • 1 lb silken soft tofu cut into 1-inch cubes



1. Heat olive oil in medium stock pot.

2. Add chopped onion, lemongrass and fennel.  

3. Sauté 5-7 minutes on medium heat until translucent.  

4. Crush tomatoes with hands and add to pot with coconut milk.  

5. Turn heat to high and bring ingredients to a boil.

6. Reduce to medium and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.  

7. Add salt and pepper to taste.   

8. Add hot ingredients to blender in small batches and purée.   

9. Add tofu and serve.

Categories: Brazen Kitchen