Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spicy Pan-Asian-Inspired Soup

This recipe owes its inception to one of those cold, damp autumn afternoons when the temperature inside the house is nearly identical to that on the outside, but it's too early in the season - and you're too cheap - to turn on the furnace. I decided that soup was probably our best defense in the circumstances, and something complex and spicy suited my agenda better than a more western "comfort" approach like potato-leek or mushroom-barley (also excellent, but not what I was seeking).

So I basically dove into the kitchen and deployed a bit of everything from the Asian section of my spice rack: Thai flavors, Indian flavors, Chinese flavors, Vietnamese flavors, you name it. It's all in there, it's all good, and the combination will make your house smell amazing, your tummy feel happy and loved, and your nose run just enough to let you know it's working. So leave that thermostat alone for a little while longer, and warm yourself up from the inside with some soup.

Spicy Pan-Asian-Inspired Soup
~ 2 cans light coconut milk (about 4 cups)
~ 4 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
~ 1 tsp. each: red and green Thai curry pastes
~ 1 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
~ 2 fat cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. grated ginger
~ 1 carrot, cut into 1/2" matchsticks
~ 1 small red bell pepper, diced
~ 1/2 lb. extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
~ 1 tbsp. each: soy sauce, hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
~ 1/2 tsp. each: turmeric, garam masala, five spice powder
~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
~ 6 scallions, thinly sliced
~ 1/2 lb. chopped, frozen spinach, thawed

~ In a large beaker, combine the coconut milk, broth, bay leaves, saffron, and curry pastes. Microwave on high for a few minutes until hot but not boiling (you can also do this in a pot on the stove, obviously). Cover and set aside to seethe.
~ In a large pot, melt the coconut oil, add the sesame oil, and saute the garlic and ginger over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds.
~ Add the carrots and bell peppers, and cook about two minutes before adding the tofu, soy sauce, hot sauce, and dry seasonings. Stir to coat and cook another minute or two.
~ Add the mushrooms and continue cooking about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until they've given up most of their liquid.
~ Add the sliced scallions, cook for about a minute, and then pour in the coconut milk/broth mixture.
~ Cover the pot, bring just to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
~ Stir in the thawed, frozen spinach and cook 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.

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