Archives for category: Soup

I have tried to write this post for a few days now, finding it kind of out of place.  With so many people suffering right now, I felt a sort of guilt that I have the luxury to write a blog post about soup whereas for many this would be the last thing on their mind.  I couldn’t find a way to fit it together without sounding forced.  Usually I have an idea about what my blog post is going to be about.  Here I am just typing, whatever words come out, I don’t know.  Let’s hope it makes some sense.

The world has been a tumultuous place lately–revolutions, earthquakes, floods, poverty, slavery, injustice.  I guess these things have always existed, maybe I just notice more now, now that I’m older and not as aloof as I used to be.  I watch the news in a daze sometimes, in awe of the hate and the suffering in the world.  My eyes often well up with tears and I hold them in.  My husband would tease me and call me a softy.  I feel safe where I am, just as people all over the world feel safe in their homes, eating meals cooked by loves ones everyday.  Sometimes we are shaken, as life can throw a curve at us.  It’s amazing how resilient the human spirit can be–how strong we are.

We do what we have to to get by.  A mother will still look after her children even when her world is shaken.  She will find a way to feed and comfort them.  Eating gives us fuel, gives us a feeling of the familiar.  We all have our favorite meals and sometimes when you sit down to a meal after a long hard day, you can unwind and just relish in food.

This Thai Soup is a family favorite.  Usually in restaurants, it’s called Tom Yum Goong, but I couldn’t find lime leaves, galangal, and Thai Basil, so I improvised.  The results were still delicious.  I also added coconut milk, because something about the aroma of coconut milk soothes the soul–comfort.  Chilies and spiciness are also soothing for me.  We always ask for our Thai food extra spicy.  Sometimes we regret it, but most times we enjoy the fiery spice.  How ever you like your soup, enjoy it and take a minute or two to reflect on life and be grateful for the small things.

Thai Style Soup with Shrimp

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

Vegetable oil of your choice

2 shallots, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic roughly chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stalk of lemon grass, bruised with a knife and roughly chopped

zest and juice of one lime

6 dried red chilies, or to taste and a few extra for the broth

1 tablespoon brown sugar

15 sprigs of cilantro, stems included

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, any size you prefer

crimini mushrooms, quartered

handful of pea pods, optional

6-8 cups chicken stock

salt, to taste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 3/4 cup coconut milk, I used light

1 red chili, sliced

1 green chili, sliced

cilantro, basil, limes, for garnish (or any combination)

Method

Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime zest/juice, dried red chilies, brown sugar, and cilantro springs in a food process and pulse until it forms a smooth paste.

Next, heat a large pot on medium and heat about 1 tablespoon of oil and add the paste to the oil and mix for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and mix the paste and chicken stock well so tat they become uniform. Taste for salt, and add salt, if necessary.  Also, throw in a few extra dried red chilies into the broth, optional.

Cook until the stock boils, once the stock boils add in the coconut milk and let it come to a boil again.  Add in the fish sauce and let the soup boil until you can see the oil separately.

Add in the mushrooms, pea pods, and shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns pink.  Garish with the red and green chilies, cilantro, basil, limes.  Serve hot.

A few other recipes of Thai Soup:

Temple of Thai

The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook

Thai Food About

Rasa Malaysia

**A good breakdown of a few organizations you can donate through for earthquake/tsunami relief via Slow Like Honey**

If you are from New England and you don’t love chowder, something is seriously wrong with you.  Chowdahh as it is more accurately pronounced is a seaside staple, especially during the summer months.  I remember going to the beach and feasting on chowder and clam cakes.  One of my earliest memories of cooking myself revolves around chowder.  I would open up a can of Snow’s Clam Chowder in a small saucepan thinking I was really cooking and add some pepper, red chili powder (that would be the Pakistani inside me), and some dried herbs.  I was incredibly proud of myself and would make everyone in my family try what I “made.”

In this shrimp chowder I basically did the same thing, except I made the soup from scratch.  I doctored up the original version.  Although some would consider it blasphemous to alter a Clam Chowder, well the New England Version, at least.  Come to think of it, it has been adulterated a few times.  There are of course the Manhattan and Rhode Island clear version (which I never really cared for, not rich enough for me).  Taking that into consideration my version is perfectly fine and any purists can…umm, not eat it, I guess.

In this version, I omitted the clams, because my husband is allergic to them, grrrrr.  I think I was going for a Southwest feel for this chowder, but I can’t exactly say that turned out to be Southwest, it actually was a little Thai tasting.  This is probably because I relate the taste of coconut milk so much to Thai food.  I was anticipating that this soup would take hours with me hovering over the pot stirring away.  This was not the case, it was done in 30 minutes and left me with some free time.

My husband loved this chowder and was oohing and ahhing, saying he can’t wait to come home for dinner and getting all sentimental.  Ladies and gentleman, cook this for your significant other and you may get a similar reaction.

Shrimp, Coconut Milk, and Corn Chowder

adapted from Real Simple, recipe here

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 a pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined (I remove the tails, because it is a pain to remove when eating soup)

1 small red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Yukon Gold potato, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1-2 jalapenos, diced, seeds and ribs removed (use only 1 for a mild chowder)

1/2 cup haricots verts, ends removed and cut into small pieces on an angle

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

crushed red chilies, to taste (optional)

1 bay leaf

salt, to taste

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade and low-sodium

1 cup light coconut milk

chives, cilantro, and lime wedges, for garnish

Method

Heat the oil on medium to medium-low heat in a large stewing pot or saucepan.  Add in the onion, carrot, jalapenos, and bay leaf.  Allow them to sweat and become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Next, add in the potatoes, corn, and all the spices including the salt and cook for two minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Let the potatoes get cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  When the potatoes are cooked, toss in the shrimp and the haricots verts and allow the shrimp to get pink and cooked, about 4-5 minutes.  Serve with a garnish of cilantro and chives, and a wedge of lime.

By the looks of my blog it seems like I like to indulge in fattening foods, ALL THE TIME!  That’s not the case, I splurge once a week, but on a daily basis I’m a healthy eater (so I’d like to think).  Everyday food for me, is soup, salads, grilled chicken, you know the whole shebang.  I like to jazz up my food a bit for my blog.  It’s my food’s alter ego, my Sasha Fierce, take that, Beyonce!

Leeks I had frozen 🙂

However, I would like to invite you to my daily eating world.  This soup exemplifies it.  I know, I did add the crispy leeks and the creme fraiche, but those are entirely optional.  Sometimes I add them sometimes I do not.  But, my husband will always add them.  Boys will be boys, I guess.  Speaking of which, I am suddenly reminded of that commercial where a woman said she gave up sugary drinks and did not lose an inch and husband did and lost 10 pounds.  I am quite careful with my eating habits and I have noticed many guys are not and they do not gain a pound. Grrrrr…I’m sure that is not the case with everyone, but an observation I have made.

Anyway, back to the soup.  Simple, easy and flavorful!  This is why I love soups.  Thousands of combinations and they can be so hearty and warming.  The taste sensations from this one are so bright because of the herbs and the lemon zest.  There is also a smooth and silky component that really soothes the soul.  For an easy weeknight meal, do try it.

White Bean Soup with Crispy Leeks and Herb Creme Fraiche

Serves 3

Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups of white beans, soaked overnight and cooked (use canned beans if it’s easier for you)

1 cup leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only, washed thoroughly)

1 shallot, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 sprig of rosemary, chopped

3 1/4 cups of homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock,) warmed

kosher salt, to taste, about 3/4 of a teaspoon

red chili flakes, to taste, optional

a few cranks of fresh black pepper

2 tablespoons milk, optional

Method

Cook the leeks, shallot, and rosemary on medium heat in olive oil until translucent.  Add in the garlic and allow it to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Toss in the salt, black pepper, and chili flakes.  Add the beans and allow them to heat up.  Pour in the warmed chicken stock and allow it to come a boil.  Let the whole mixture boil for about 7 minutes.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender and strain through a sieve.  Put it back in the pot, and stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil and then serve.

Garnish Options

Crispy leeks:  Take 1/4 cup of chopped leeks and shallow fry them in olive oil until they become golden brown.  Drain excess oil on a paper towel.  Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt at end.

Herb Creme Fraiche:  Take 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 5 sprigs of chopped chives, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, zest of half a lemon, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil and combine them with 2-3 tablespoons of creme fraiche.   Dollop on top of the soup.

I added a little extra lemon zest and some chives for some garnishes.