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
– 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.