Difficulty estimates on recipes don’t make much sense to me. Anything can seem easy once you know how it’s done; until then, it seems hard. Some recipes look easy on the outset, but take years to master (such as the perfect white rice). Others look complicated, but only because of their long ingredients list (stir fry is as straight-forward as it’s name suggests– cut, fry, and stir). Time estimates are also misleading. They don’t account for the procurement of materials, nor for the reader’s experience.
For the longest time, I was afraid of Asian soups, because they seemed very difficult. Now I have made a couple, and I have to say, not only are they are more than manageable, but the preparation was well worth it. I crafted this recipe from a few different concepts and ideas, and once it was ready, my professional taste-tester, a.k.a. the fiancé, told me it tasted like something you would get at a swanky restaurant for an exhorbant cost. Does it deserve such high praise? I will let your taste-testers decide.
Thai Curry Soup
– 5 cups chicken broth (make Fried-Egg Soup one day, use the remaining broth the next)
– 1/2 can coconut milk
– 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
– 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
– 2 teaspoons brown sugar
– 4 teaspoons red curry paste
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 1/2 stalk lemongrass, sliced
– 3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms
– 2 japanese turnips, sliced into thin rounds (substitute with a different root vegetable if needed, such as a yukon gold potato)
– 2 avocados
– 2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
– 2-3 sprigs cilantro, chopped up
– 1 green onion, sliced
– 1 teaspoon powdered coriander, or whole coriander
– chili oil or dried chili flakes to taste (I used about 4 teaspoons)
– 2 cups shrimp (raw is better) or cooked chicken (such as the remainder from that Fried-Egg Soup broth)
As usual, your own taste will dictate exact amounts, particularly of the spices. Taste as you go!
Combine vegetable oil with lemon grass, grated ginger, and red curry paste in a large saucepan or pot, and cook for about a minute or so. Pour in chicken broth while stirring. Add coconut milk while stirring until the color is more pastel and the texture is somewhat creamy.
Now begin adding chili oil, lime juice, brown sugar, coriander and fish sauce, as you taste and mix. If it isn’t salty enough, add more fish sauce. If it isn’t sweet enough, add sugar. Too spicy– some more coconut milk and a little more lime should help. Or maybe it’s not spicy enough? ; )
When you get the right flavor, add the mushrooms, and turnips. When the mushrooms are soft, add the raw shrimp and/or chicken and bring to a beief boil, all while stirring. The shrimp should turn red and only be a little translucent. If using pre-cooked shrimp, keep in mind, it’s very easy to overcook, so don’t boil it for too long.
Finally, slice up half an avocado for each bowl, and garnish with a bit of cilantro and green onion (I also added enoki mushrooms in the above picture, and they took on a bit of a pasta-like texture). Serve with a side of plain cooked white rice, which each person can add to their own soup bowl as they please. This recipe should fill about four bowls. Enjoy!