Category Archives: coconut milk

Ginger Turmeric Carrot Soup

 

When I was a little girl, happily engrossed in a snack, chomping on a fistful of carrot sticks, grownups (especially grandparents) used to chuckle and nod in appreciation.

They were tickled pink that I loved those orange roots so much.

“Just like Bugs Bunny, Lynnie, you love them carrots.”

They’d chuckle among themselves, scratch their chins in that thoughtful, elderly way and proclaim, “Carrots, little Lynnie, are not only good for ya, but they’ll put a curl in your hair.”

Curls and carrots were a good thing. Still are. I’ve got a head full of curly strands and in my garden grows some of the least straight, most angled and wayward, thwarted and stopped-up roots ever grown in these parts.

IMG_2302But that hasn’t stopped my love affair with this root.

They were the first veg I fed my babies.  I’d peel dozens of those orange wands, chop them into coins and toss them into a steamer basket. Once tender to the fork, I’d whirl them in my trusty food processor, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to create a fresh, real carrot puree bound for the mouths of my babes.

I remember the bright orange stains on their bibs and the way they’d open their tiny mouths like hungry baby birds.  Absolute delight welled up in this maternal heart as I fed such pure, nourishing orangeness on a little, plastic-coated baby spoon to my happy little charges.

IMG_0220Carrot soup is not that far a leap from baby food.

It’s a pure puree meant for adult tastes including complex flavours that hop around the carrots, not unlike Bugs, but with more flavour than a cartoon can ever conjure. Ginger, a fellow root, pairs so sublimely with carrots, cutting a little of the sweetness and giving it a sideways spike. Turmeric, that currently trendy Asian rhizome that is popping up in lattes and milky teas,  deepens a carrot’s  orange into a golden crimson, while leaving yellowed tattoos on your fingers when freshly grated.

But the real kicker is in the stock — the foundational rock of any soup.  My cheat for any soup that stars vegetables-only is a super-slow-cooked chicken stock.  It adds a magical velvet to the soup’s texture while leaving a sparkling, golden sheen on the surface.

I know vegetarians and vegans will simply bypass that remark and enjoy this soup just as much, if not more, without the poultry.  I won’t even wonder what Looney Tunes could chime in with —  but I bet it would make this elder chuckle.

 

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Ginger Turmeric Carrot Soup

If your freezer isn’t full of homemade stock, bouillon cubes will suffice. Taste the results before adding salt to the soup as most cubes are sky-high in sodium.

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated/ 1 tsp turmeric powder

5 cups (10-12 medium)  carrots, chopped

6 cups defatted, homemade chicken stock

1 cup coconut milk

4 kaffir lime leaves (or 2 bay leaves)

1 ½ tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

Fresh lime wedges

Freshly chopped coriander and/or mint

Heat coconut oil in a large pot on medium high.  Add onion, ginger and turmeric cooking 3-5 min or until soft and fragrant.  Add carrots, stock, coconut milk, lime or bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking 15-20 min or until the carrots are tender soft.  Remove the lime or bay leaves and purée the hot soup with a hand-held immersion blender. Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg, lime juice, a dollop of yogurt or freshly chopped coriander and mint leaves.

Heavenly Thai lamb curry

There are certain foods that just have to be cooked in coconut milk and spiked with chillies.  Lamb is one of them.  It’s a meat that not every carnivore adores, but those who do, wax rhapsodic when imagining lamb braised slowly alongside coconut milk infused with Thai curry paste.  I choose a yellow oneIMG_6523 for this because it contains lamb-loving turmeric and other warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.  This is a curry that must include potatoes and I was happy to toss in three different organic varieties, starring a dark, red-skinned beauty with deep purple flesh. Lots of green herbs should swim through every Thai curry.  I always keep a stash of lime leaves in my freezer and wished I had fresh Thai basil to toss in, too.  I improvised with half a frozen cube of homemade basil pesto and was happy with the results.

I like to braise this curry slowly in my enamelled, cast iron Cuisinart Dutch oven with a IMG_6522layer of parchment paper tucked over the curry before it is lidded.  The parchment paper layer prevents any drop of fragrant moisture from leaving this slow-cooked beauty. Just before serving, I brighten these heavy flavours  with tamarind paste, fresh mint and coriander.  Cooking time varies depending on the cut of lamb and whether it contains bones or not. Don’t stop braising until the meat is fork tender.  Enjoy!

 

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Thai Lamb and Potato Yellow Curry

This is a rich and unctuous curry with lamb swimming in a turmeric-tinged sea of coconut milk and potato chunks.

2 tbsp canola oil

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup Thai yellow curry paste

2 jalapeno peppers (seeds included) , chopped

2 lbs boneless lamb shoulder

1 can coconut milk

1 sprig fresh basil or 1 tbsp basil pesto, frozen

3 tbsp fish sauce

6 kaffir lime leaves

5-6 medium organic potatoes, red, yellow and purple, sliced in half, skin on

2 red bell peppers, sliced

¼ cup tamarind paste

¼ cup chopped mint

¼ cup chopped coriander

In a large dutch oven  heat oil on high. Cook garlic and onion 2-3 minutes or until softened, add curry paste and stir fry until oil starts to exude from the paste.  Add jalapenos and lamb and stir-fry until browned, add coconut milk, basil/pesto, fish sauce, and 6 kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to simmer.  Cover with parchment and lid and braise in 300 F oven for 1 hr, add potatoes and red bell peppers, cook another hour with parchment and lid or until meat is tender and juicy.

 

Thai soup heaven

chiang mai noodle soup

It wasn’t until I went to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai that I appreciated how a single soup can make a destination live forever in your memory. I was in my twenties, backpacking across Southeast Asia with my travelling buddy Anna. We had escaped Bangkok’s sauna bath heat and planned to make Chiang Mai just a quick layover – until we dipped our spoons into the creamy, golden contents of a certain noodle soup.

I swooned. Anna did, too.

Thai Basil

Thai basil

Then we quickly rallied our reinforcements, digging in with chopsticks now, pulling out a tangle of soft, pliable noodles bathed in coconut milk and spiked with a litany of flavours. We slurped and gobbled, one part spoon, two parts chopsticks, making a crazy mess of ourselves, crowded around a makeshift stall, sitting on wobbly stools perched on a dirt floor.

Like everyone around us, we were immersed in our soup, digging out deep licorice Thai basil notes, spiked by the fire of bird’s eye chillies. To our right and left, slurpers stopped only to reach for a lime wedge, giving their soup a slight spritz. We followed suit and could taste fish sauce undertones lift up new, indecipherably delicious flavours.

Limes, basil, green onions and fresh coriander sold in Thai fresh market.

Limes, basil, green onions and fresh coriander sold in Thai fresh market.

It was chicken noodle soup unlike anything we’d encountered from Campbell’s. Every morsel had such a cacophony of flavor. Did someone turn up the volume control on our tastebuds?

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Here is my rendition. You can prepare everything in advance for this soup, except the noodles- then it’s a breeze to serve as a quick dinner or lunch.

Coconut milk and curry paste

Purchase a 525 ml can of coconut milk- it’s just the right size for this recipe. Be sure to buy my favourite brands of Aroy-D coconut milk and Maesri curry paste, pictured above.

 

Chiang Mai Noodle Soup

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 sweet red pepper, diced

1/2 cup coconut cream

3 tbsp red curry paste

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 3/4 cup coconut milk

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

15 basil leaves

2-3 chopped bird’s eye chillies

3 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp sambal oelek chili sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp lime juice

1/2 lb Chinese egg noodles

1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

4 green onions, chopped

In a large pot on medium-high, heat the oil. Add garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds or until golden. Add diced red pepper and stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a plate and reserve.

Open the can of coconut milk and gently spoon off half a cup of the thick cream on top. Using the same pot, warm the coconut cream at medium-high, whisk in curry paste and turmeric and continue to whisk until coconut cream starts to separate slightly and glisten with oil. Add chicken and stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until chicken is browned and covered with paste. Add reserved red pepper and garlic, remaining contents of coconut milk can, chicken stock, basil, chillies, fish sauce, sambal oelek, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or JUST until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, boil egg noodles for 2 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

Place one-sixth of the noodles in each bowl and ladle over with hot soup. Garnish with coriander and green onions.