the saturday soup – thai red curry coconut July 30, 2011

There’s been a weird light on things the past few days. Work’s been fun but tempered with some stress of change mixed with fear of things not changing. Changing of guards with not so much changing because of it. It’s a weird place. It’s also been a week or two of sandwiches and Italian food, which usually has me craving something on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve been wandering around the studios this week threatening to make a trek for Asian food (one of my stress food comfort desires) – pho or salt and pepper tofu or spicy green Thai curry…or all of the above. Rather than spend any more time than necessary in a car and waste my rare weekend off, I took my food craving into my own hands and cooked for myself.

Enjoying a quiet Saturday around the house, the weird light made another appearance by streaming into the kitchen. The overcast gray that’s dreary but at the same time cozy. On a day that reached into the 90s, it made no sense. What did make sense was being able to quietly cook and enjoy the flowers I bought at the market, the bright & crisp veggies prepped for soup, music drifting up the hallway from my studio room – all bathed in that haze. With the aromatic Thai scented broth filling the house, the clouds overhead darkened the room. Ladling a bowl full of crunchy snow peas and baby corn…and slurping the lime-tinged coconut soup…the sky opened up and that light was explained. A most welcome summer thunderstorm – the soaker kind that keeps you from having to water the plants for a day or two – started beating against the window I was sitting in eating my lunch. Just like that, as quick as it appears…it was gone…and the sun came out. Maybe it’s a metaphor or maybe it’s meteorology but, for me, it didn’t go unnoticed.

This is a recipe that is based on a Donna Hay soup recipe that I’ve had rattling around for years – it’s from one of her books or a copy of her magazine but I now have so many, I don’t even know where to start. It’s incredible how much flavor you get out of this quick-fix soup. The addition of the red lentils amps up the filling factor of the soup and acts like a bit of a thickener – this isn’t your usual paper thin Thai soup. While this version is seemingly vegan (as long as there’s nothing untoward in your curry paste), this soup is a wonderful base recipe to add chicken, shrimp, salmon or cubes of tofu. A handful of noodles wouldn’t hurt, either.

Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup with Vegetables – serves 4 to 6 as a soup course or light entree – based on a recipe by Donna Hay

  • 2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp. red curry paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups (1 15. ounce can) coconut cream
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and dried
  • 10 large button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can baby corn, drained and cut into halves or chunks
  • a handful of snow pea pods, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, washed and dried
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

– In a heavy bottom medium pot, heat up the oil on medium heat for a minute or two. Add the red curry paste and stir until it starts to melt – 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, coconut cream, lime halves and lentils and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – 10 to 15 minutes – this will allow some of the oils to gather at the top so you can skim them off.

– Put broth back on the heat and bring back to a simmer over medium heat – you can remove the lime halves at this point. Add the snow peas, baby corn and mushrooms and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or just until tender. Give it a taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking (I usually don’t need any but some folks might). Spoon into serving bowls and top with sprigs of fresh cilantro. This soup will keep for 1-2 days in a tightly sealed container in the fridge – once past that, the veggies tend to go south a little bit.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga Jul 30, 2011 08:07 pm

Tami this soup sounds and looks so good! I love coconut milk, cream, coconut anything!

Amy Jul 31, 2011 12:07 am

Of course I always adore you photos but I must compliment your writing today. It must be the English major inside of me :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen Jul 31, 2011 02:07 am

My stress time comfort food is always soups with a bit of heat and warmth, life doesn’t look all that complicated after all. I have so many of your soups bookmarked but I have a feeling this is going to be made soon :-) Love Thai flavors!

Lucy@acookandherbooks Jul 31, 2011 08:07 am

A lovely soup. And these July thunderstorms are indeed welcome. I can’t look at baby corn without thinking of Tom Hanks in “Big.”

Cheryl Balara Jul 31, 2011 11:07 am

This soup sounds intriguing. I am new to Thai food, so I must ask, is Red Curry Paste spicy? Also new to Red Lentils; is this canned or dried? Once I know these, I will try this soup. Thanks.

tami Jul 31, 2011 12:07 pm

hi cheryl! red curry paste is moderately spicy – you could always start with less red curry paste than this recipe calls for and add more once you taste the broth. it’s spicier than yellow curry and not as spicy as green curry (at least for me) – it’s a nice middle ground. As for red lentils, I buy them in bulk as a dried product – I’ve never seen them canned. The nice thing about them is, unlike most other lentils, they don’t need to be soaked beforehand. You can throw them in and they cook quickly. I’ve used red lentils in many soups on my blog if you want to experiment with them further :)

Helene Jul 31, 2011 11:07 am

We’ve had this convo a week or so ago via DMs: change, no change. Stress no stress. And from the past few days, also via DMs. I know I should learn to let those weird lights come and go and let myself trust that something good for the soul and heart is just around the corner. May it be an idea shared, a trip, a job… I should know to rely on the universe, that is is good to good people. Like you :)
Love ya babe…

Oh and the soup: definitely one of our favorite combinations and yours is on the menu for this week now!

MikeVFMK Jul 31, 2011 11:07 am

Beautiful soup, Tami! I also turn to asian food when I’m at a crossroads or stressed or a bit down. As for change? Stay the same.

Anna Jul 31, 2011 12:07 pm

this looks delicious- is there a brand of red curry paste that you prefer to use?

tami Jul 31, 2011 12:07 pm

Anna – I use a brand called “Bright” which is carried at a local market here in ATL. I’ve tried to find a website for the company but have had no luck. Most grocery stores carry a brand called Thai Kitchen – they have a red curry paste in their line of products.

TheFromagette Jul 31, 2011 01:07 pm

We are having the same kind of day here today. And it’s only raining because I finally watered my lawn just last night:) Yay for coconut cream – looks delish!

Heidi / foodiecrush Jul 31, 2011 10:07 pm

This looks divine, and as a fellow lover of Donna Hay and Thai food, I’m planning on doing a version with mussels over udon. Thanks for giving me the coconut craving.

Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful Aug 1, 2011 11:08 am

God that looks good! I love Thai curry soup – and the smell, I agree, amazing! I’ve been feeling very similarly lately but craving Mexican (until those Thai fish cakes)…funny how we have those flavors that comfort us and yet hurrah that they exist!

I’ve got a special section just for Donna Hay mags and books – I know exactly how you feel about not knowing where to start :)

Winnie Aug 6, 2011 08:08 am

Looks so awesome. I love Thai soups :)

Elizabeth Oct 4, 2011 10:10 pm

Great..thanks..Now that I mentioned this to my husband he is craving a red curry coconut soup! Great description of your cooking experience. I felt like I was there with you!

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