Vegan Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

Our stuffed bitter melon soup is a tasty vegan spin on the classic Vietnamese dish. We swapped pork with tofu and added it to a savoury filling of mushrooms, soy sauce and glass noodles.

Vegan Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs35.7 g13%
of which Sugars13.1 g14.5%
Fibers11.6 g41.6%
Fats7.3 g11.2%
of which Saturates0.8 g4%
of which Omega 30.3 g30.6%
Proteins10.1 g21.9%
Calcium101 mg10.1%
Vitamin A292 mcg41.8%
Vitamin C60 mg79.8%
Iron1.5 mg10%
Potassium790 mg22.6%
Sodium1565 mg68%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Kcal248 12.4%
Macro split
  • net carbs 55%
  • sugars 20%
  • fats 11%
  • saturates 1%
  • proteins 16%
  • fibers 18%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
248 per serving
1h 20m

For today's recipe, we revisited the classic Vietnamese stuffed bitter melon soup and gave it a plant-based spin. This comforting dish celebrates the unique taste of bitter gourd, and it's super easy to put together. Let us show you how to do it!

Also known as canh kho qua in Vietnamese, the traditional soup consists of bitter melon pieces stuffed with noodles, pork mince, and fish sauce and then simmered in broth until tender.

Because it contains fish and meat, it's a no-go recipe for those on a plant-based diet. But don't worry, making a vegan version is easier than you'd think.

Thanks to tofu and soy sauce you have the perfect vegan alternative to pork and fish sauce. Firm tofu has a spongy texture similar to meat mince and an equivalent nutritional profile to it. Soy sauce it's salty and savoury, exactly like fish sauce. Blitz the two with shiitake mushrooms and sesame oil, and you'll get a delicious vegan filling for your bitter melons.

Another essential ingredient in stuffed bitter gourd soup is glass noodles. These super cool, transparent noodles are made from the starch of mung beans. They're also known as cellophane noodles or bean thread noodles, and you can find them at your local Asian food store. Glass noodles help hold the tofu filling together and give it an interesting chewy finish.

As for the bitter melons, we have to tell you beforehand that they're quite bitter (as the name says after all). Some people love them while others have trouble eating them.

To reduce the gourd bitterness, we coated them with salt, which helps draw out the bitter juices. Also, we sweetened both the filling and the broth to balance out the flavours, but some of the bitterness will still remain.

Bitter melon is also known as bitter gourd or bitter squash, and it's a common ingredient in African, Caribbean, and South-East Asian cuisines.

You should be able to find the Indian or Chinese variety at your local Asian food store. They taste quite similar, but the Indian type has a bumpier, jagged skin — and because it looks really cool, we chose it for our recipe!

Ok now, time to put your apron on and get started!


Measuring System
Vegetable Stock1.5 L
Maple Syrup (or sugar)1 tbsp
Spring Onions to taste
Glass Noodles40 g
Firm Tofu150 g
Shiitake Mushrooms50 g
Garlic Cloves1
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce2 tbsp
Maple Syrup (or sugar)1 tbsp
Sesame Oil1 tbsp
Large Bitter Melons2

Step 1

Trim off the ends of the bitter melon and discard them. Then, slice it into 4cm (1.5 inches) thick pieces.

Using a knife or a teaspoon, remove the seeds and scrape out the inner pulp.

sliced and hollowed out bitter melon gourd

Step 2

Now, sprinkle the melon pieces with a generous amount of salt, coating them evenly on the inside and the outside.

The salt will help draw out some of the bitter juices from the melon slices.

Let them sit for 40 minutes, and then rinse them well.

bitter melon slices coated with salt

Step 3

In the meantime, soak the glass noodles in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes.

Then, drain them well and cut them into very small pieces using a pair of scissors or a knife.

cutting soaked glass noodles

Step 4

Now, let's prepare the vegan filling.

Rinse, squeeze, and pat dry the tofu. Add it to a food processor, followed by shiitake mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, and sesame oil (1).

Blitz all into a smooth and creamy mixture, and then mix it with the noodle pieces (2).

tofu mushroom filling for bitter gourd soup
tofu and noodles filling for stuffed bitter melon soup

Step 5

Use a teaspoon to stuff each bitter melon piece, packing it tightly with the prepared filling.

Pat the filling flat on both sides of the melon slices so it won't leak out while cooking in the broth.

bitter melon sliced stuffed with noodles and tofu filling

Step 6

Pour a little vegetable stock into a large pot.

Then, place the stuffed melon slices into the pot, arranging them in one layer and with the filling side up.

Carefully pour in the remaining stock until the melon is barely covered.

Then, tip in thinly sliced carrots and maple syrup.

stuffed bitter melon soup in a pot

Step 7

Bring the broth to a gentle boil and then simmer the soup for 30 minutes over low heat.

Garnish your delicious vegan stuffed bitter melon soup with sliced spring onions and enjoy it with a side of steamed rice.

cooked stuffed bitter melon soup in a pot


  • You can add a splash of rice vinegar to the soup to help reduce the melon bitterness.

  • If you have any leftover filling, shape into little dumplings, let them set in the fridge and then cook them in the soup.