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Vegetarian Filipino Arroz Caldo With Tofu

As a child, Edwin's mom told him, "If you want to eat, you should cook it yourself." And that's exactly what he's been doing ever since.

Arroz caldo with tofu

Arroz caldo with tofu

Filipino-Style Vegetarian Arroz Caldo

A common breakfast in Chinese cuisine is congee, or jook, which is a thick rice soup or porridge. Because of the Chinese influence on Filipino cooking, people in the Philippines also enjoy congee—though in Tagalog we call it lugaw.

However, we've also developed a variation that we call arroz caldo (Spanish for "hot rice"). Arroz caldo is fancier than a simple rice porridge; it usually contains meat and other seasonings. This dish is typically eaten as a light afternoon or late-night snack. It can also be eaten as a main dish.

Normally, this dish takes at least an hour to make. But if you happen to have leftover rice, the recipe comes together much more quickly.

Since some of my friends are vegetarians, I created a non-meat version of this recipe for them. But you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

30 min

40 min

6 servings


For the arroz caldo:

  • 3 cups cooked leftover rice
  • 1 pinch Persian saffron, available at ethnic stores
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the toppings:

  • 1 (12-ounce) box firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 6 lemon wedges


  1. Boil the cooked rice in a pot of vegetable broth over medium heat until the soup becomes thick, stirring often, for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Saute the garlic, onion, and ginger in 1 tablespoon oil for about 2 minutes. Then add this mixture to the pot of rice.
  3. Add more water if needed to adjust the consistency. Add the saffron and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Continue to cook until the desired thickness/consistency is achieved.
  5. In a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Fry the tofu cubes until brown, about 5 minutes on each side.
  6. Ladle the rice soup into bowls. Top with the fried tofu and other toppings. Drizzle with soy sauce.


  • Soy sauce: You can serve the soy sauce on the side instead of drizzling it on top.
  • Optional garlic garnish: You can also top with toasted chopped garlic by sauteing the garlic in a pan until brown.