Lion's Head Soup (Chinese Vegan Meatball Soup)

November 28, 2022
Here’s a healthy, delicious and easy to make a Chinese soup for you to try. The name “lion’s head” derives from the shape of the meatball which is supposed to resemble the head of a lion that sits on a bed of Napa cabbage leaves, which appears to act as the lion’s mane hence its interesting name. Five spices are used to marinate the vegan meatballs in this recipe which makes it so flavorful and balances well with the light broth. Here’s what you’ll need:
vegan meatballs and vegetables in a pot

Lion’s Head Soup (Chinese Vegan Meatball Soup)

Recipe Type: Soups and Stews
utensils YIELDS 4-5 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 2 tbsp grounded flax seeds (for your vegan "eggs")
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 block firm tofu (crumbled)
  • 3x (depending on size) (any) mushrooms (small dices)
  • 1/2 carrot (small dices)
  • 1 thumb ginger (minced)
  • 4 stalks spring onion (save some as toppings for later)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp five spices seasoning
  • salt & pepper (for taste)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4-5 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 napa cabbage leaves
  • A handful of bean sprouts (as noodles if you want to replace carbs)
  • 2 heads bok choy (cut into halves)
  • 1/4 carrot (slices for soup broth)
  • 1 thumb ginger (cut into coins for soup)
        graphic for recipe card


1. Prepare your vegan “eggs” by combining your grounded flax seeds and water. Set aside for later while preparing your next ingredients.

2. In a big mixing bowl, combine your crumbled tofu, mushroom dices, carrot dices, minced ginger, spring onion, and all of the dry ingredients (cornstarch, five spices, salt & pepper), flax eggs, 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp sesame oil to make your vegan meatballs. 

3. Then shape your marinated mixture into meatballs (I used 2x tablespoon to measure out a good size meatball) and set aside. (I like keeping them in the fridge so they firm up while I tidy up and prepare for the next step.)

4. Prepare your air fryer—place a sheet of baking paper inside the basket and place your vegan meatballs and lightly brush some sesame oil over them. I air fry each side for 5 minutes at 180–200°c until golden brown and crunchy. (You can also pan fry them instead if you don’t have an air fryer.)

5. While they are frying: in a pot, on low heat, simmer your vegetable broth and boil your vegetables (Napa cabbage leaves, bok choy, carrot slices and ginger coins). 

6. Taste as you go—add your remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and sesame oil to add a light flavor to your broth.

7. When your vegan meatballs are done and ready, transfer them into the soup to float on top of the cabbage leaves and top with extra spring onion for a pop of color and enjoy!

Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!


Photo: Bel Faustino

Bel Faustino
Bel’s curiosity for healthy living started at a young age of 11. From mindful eating to exercise, she always had a sweet tooth struggle and her weakness are desserts. It then took her high school and uni days to find the balance to maintain the healthy lifestyle yet enjoy desserts in a more guilt-free way and veganizing them seems the way to do it. Obsessed with always finding healthier alternatives, she hopes to recreate her favorite non vegan treats and share her recipes through her culture (Filipina born in Macau, S.A.R., China), lifestyle, childhood memories and travels (Southeast Asia, USA, Mexico, UK and more to come!). Follow her journey in Instagram @belbrosasfaustino.


always stay inspired!