Monday, October 26, 2009

Carrot, Coconut & Lime Soup

I've had a week off -- while a new hard drive was being installed in my computer -- and during the week, I made healthful, seasonal soups.

Like cooling fruit smoothies in summer, fall / winter soups are choc full of nutritive and satisfying, warming seasonal vegetables.

Preparing soup can be quite effortless; you don't need a lot of time, nor complicated recipes to create something
original and delicious.

What you do need is a sense of adventure, and an active imagination and by that I mean the ability to imagine what flavors will go well together once cooked and blended.

If you're a smoothie fan, you'll know that soft summer fruits automatically taste great when blended together either with water or with juice or milk.

In-season fruits and vegetables have an uncanny knack of complimenting one another. It's nature's way of ensuring that we make the most of the variety of fresh produce available.

In fall and winter, root vegetables, like soft summer fruits, are great flavor pals to one another. In other words, toss lots of chopped root veggies into a pot with either water or stock, simmer gently for an hour, and voila, delicious soup! It's hard to go wrong.

I like to experiment with flavor and texture, and still I find it's hard to go wrong -- so long as I taste-test along the way to ensure that I'm not being too heavy-handed with one flavor over another.

For instance, the soup idea I'll share today is a variation on a red Thai curry but with apple added. Apple compliments carrot and celery, plus it smoothes the texture of the soup which might otherwise be quite chunky and fibrous due to the carrot and celery.

To finish, I added coconut milk to taste. It enriches the soup with its creaminess, plus it's a staple in Thai cooking, as is lime, which I squeezed into the soup at the very end to counteract the sweetness of the apple and carrot.

Do you see how easy it is to create a unique soup by simply matching flavors and textures?

Drawing on your taste memory also helps. When I decided on the ingredients for today's soup, I visualized the red Thai curry I enjoy at my favorite Thai restaurant, recalling the texture, flavors, the vegetables in the dish, and then I improvised with the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

Here's the basic recipe; feel free to experiment, improvising according to the ingredients you have on hand.

Carrot, Coconut & Lime Soup
1) Wash several organic carrots, scraping them with a knife to sloth off any dirt or debris.
2) Wash several stalks of celery, leaving the leaves on for extra celery flavor (the bitterness of the celery leaves will compliment the sweetness of the apple and carrot).
3) Wash and chop one or two apples. I leave on the skin, but you can peel them if you wish.
4) Wash and chop either a leek or white onion, toss into a pot with a little oil, and saute on med heat.
5) Add a teaspoon of Thai Red Curry Paste or if you use Thai Kitchen Original Pad Thai sauce, add a tablespoon (it's not hot like the paste).
6) Toss in chopped carrot, celery and finally the apple. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir ingredients over a med-low heat.
7) Add either water or chicken stock, enough to cover vegetables, cover pot with lid and cook contents gently for about 45 mins or until vegetables are soft.
8) Blend soup in a food processor or blender, pouring blended ingredients back into soup pot.
9) Taste-test and add salt if you wish. Pour in coconut milk to your liking while soup pot is on low heat.

To Serve: Squeeze lime into soup, taste-test to ensure the flavor is to your liking. This is a fairly sweet soup so it can withstand a good amount of lime juice. Ladle soup into individual bowls and serve with a chunk of lime on the side, and a sprig of green in the center, i.e. basil, Thai basil, parsley, lemon grass, or chives.

No comments: