Dinner @ 226 - Thai Coconut Lime Soup

The mystique of our local sushi restaurant is what keeps Jason and I coming back, as we drool with memories of our last Pad Thai.  Their impossibly sharp knives and the tiny cat who waves to us as we stare in amazement at the Chef's knife skills. The curly orange corkscrews and weird pile of crunchy, clear grass.  The smell of fermented soybeans and happiness that saturates the tiny walls.  And of course, the food.

I first fell in love with this soup eight years ago when I began to go outside the confines of ordering Spicy Tuna Roll every single time.  I have now tried nearly everything on the menu, but this soup fills me with joy.  And, I'm not talking about a simple smile and casual happiness.  I'm talking just finding your favorite right-foot moccasin after three years of thinking the dog chewed it up into bits, sort of joy.  Yes, this soup brings me nirvana.

So, I learned how to make it at home.  Wouldn't you if you were being kept from experiencing such joy on a regular basis because of financial strain and because the sushi chef knows both of your childrens' names and possibly also their birthdays.  It was turning into a problem.  It was, frankly, the only solution.

Thai Coconut Lime Soup - I serve this with many things; homemade pad thai, stir fry or a huge salad with some spicy sauteed shrimp and this Carrot Ginger Dressing.  This amount will serve four people if you're having something else rather filling.  If this is intended as a main, double the recipe and add shrimp!  Remember, it's just as good the next day.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (I do mine on a Microplane and always go closer to 3T)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced (I do these on my mandolin)
1 8 oz container of mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, cut in chunks (optional)*
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat in a fairly large saucepan, or if you're doubling it, in a soup pot.  Briefly warm the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes, I'm talking 1 minute or less.  Add the coconut milk and 3 cups of water.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.  Add to the pot and bring to boil.

Reduce to simmer and add the carrots and mushrooms.  Let them simmer in the soup for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and salt.  Just before serving, stir in the scallions and cilantro.  You do that so they don't wilt and brown.

*At the sushi restaurant in our neighborhood, they're always putting different vegetables in.  Sometimes you'll find a tomato or green beans.  Feel free to add what you like.

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