This month’s recipe is a classic Thai curry soup that is very quick and easy to prepare. I have been a big fan of Thai food since my teens, but my true love affair with it commenced during my travels in Southeast Asia a few years ago.After sampling as many different dishes as possible while touring that section of the continent, I have spent many days and nights trying to recreate authentic versions of all of my favorites. I have had mixed luck competing with the authenticity of the pros in Thailand, but this red curry soup comes pretty close to one you might find on the street in Bangkok.
This recipe makes for a very satiating meal that provides numerous health benefits. The herbs and spices, along with the onion, garlic and ginger provide an abundance of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying elements to the dish. While coconut oil and coconut milk have gotten a bad rap in the past for their high amount of saturated fats, recent studies have shown them both to actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good cholesterol), while reducing arterial damage and providing minerals such as manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.Using light coconut milk in this recipe helps to cut back on the total calories and fat in the dish.
This curry soup can be prepared in well under an hour even with the lengthy prep work involved. However, when time is on your side, more flavor will develop the longer it sits at low heat. There is always room for any additional vegetables, such as the optional mushrooms and kale, and you won’t go wrong adding in another protein such as chicken or shrimp. The recipe makes about 8-12 servings.
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
3 cups light coconut milk
2 cups kale, chopped (optional)
1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 pound extra-firm tofu, cubed
1 package thin rice noodles
1-2 limes cut up into wedges
thinly sliced fresh red chili peppers (optional)
thinly sliced bell pepper (optional)
Heat a large stockpot to medium-high heat. Sauté the onion in the coconut oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and red curry paste and stir continuously for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock or broth and stir thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add any desired (optional) vegetables of your choice at this point, such as mushrooms and/or kale.
Add the tofu at the last 2 minutes of cooking to heat through.
Taste the broth and season to preference with kosher salt and/or a dash of soy sauce or fish sauce if needed.
You can either cook the noodles according to the package directions and cool them by running under cold water, or you can break a chunk off and put them in a bowl dry and ladle the hot soup over top and allow to sit for a couple of minutes until they soften.
Squeeze a couple of wedges of lime into the soup bowl and garnish with the rest of the desired ingredients.
Nearly every country has at least one national dish recognized worldwide. Just as Thailand has pad thai, India is known for curry, and Spain is renowned for its paella, Vietnam has pho noodle soup. Traditional pho is a popular street food consisting of a meat-based broth cooked for hours or even days. This vegetarian version can be prepared at home in under an hour. The ingredients can be as extensive or as simplified as desired. Most recipes call for whole cloves and star anise in the broth, however, I find it unnecessary to purchase a whole jar of each just to prepare this variety.
This recipe is light but filling, and offers an assortment of nutritional benefits. It is low in calories and fat, and the herbs and spices give the soup many cleansing and detoxifying properties. There is room to add any desired vegetables to increase the nutrient density, and the flavor can be tweaked to be either subtle or bursting with the spice and heat of your preference. The recipe serves 8.
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 large onion, diced large into about 8 chunks
1 medium stick fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves (optional)
3 star anise (optional)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 bunch of basil stems (reserve leaves for pho)
1 bunch of cilantro stems (reserve leaves for pho)
1 package rice noodles
1 8oz package baked tofu
sliced green onions
lightly sautéed or roasted mushrooms, sliced
lightly sautéed or roasted bok choy
thinly sliced hot peppers, such as Thai chili
fish sauce, dash
soy sauce, dash
hot sauce, dash
Combine all of the broth ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil at high heat, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Strain broth, return to the pot, cover and keep hot at low heat. Discard solids.
Meanwhile, start prepping your pho ingredients. Any combination of the above ingredients may be used and anything else desired may be added.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Run under cold water to keep from overcooking.
If using raw tofu, mushrooms or bok choy, I find it best to make a quick stir-fry or roast them before adding to the soup. If stir-frying, heat a large pan or wok until hot, add a tablespoon of oil (coconut is recommended for stir-frying) and add ingredients to be sautéed. Season with a bit of salt and pepper or soy sauce. If roasting, toss all ingredients in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a roasting or sheet pan (greased or sprayed) and roast for about 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees.
Ladle about 1-2 cups of broth into a bowl. Add noodles and any other desired ingredients. Season to perfection.
Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.
1.5 T canola oil (plus additional oil for frying the eggs)
1/2 a head of shredded green cabbage
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t ginger minced
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 egg (per serving)
Cook noodles according to package directions. Strain and shock in a bowl of cold water and set aside.
Combine the next 8 ingredients to make the sauce and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or wok and sauté cabbage, red pepper, onion and carrot for about 3 minutes at high heat, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute. Add noodles and sauce and stir for about 10 seconds until everything is evenly coated with the sauce and remove from heat.
In a nonstick pan, fry 1 egg per serving of stir-fry to desired doneness. Garnish stir-fry with cilantro and scallions and top with fried egg.