So last year I lived in Cincinnati, and the freezing cold temperatures of the city and my high-ceiling-ed apartment made me want to make soup everyday. And a few resolutions for making my life better contributed to my making up a recipe for Thai Shrimp-Coconut soup: 1) Use more items from my pantry instead of jetting to the market when I’m inspired to cook. 2) Don’t buy EVERY ingredient a recipe requires. Use my solid knowledge of food to make do (thank you Julia Child for the dose of confidence). 3) COOK MORE IN LESS TIME! I usually plan elaborate meals when a half an hour can result in something warm and simple. So, yes, this recipe only took about a half an hour!
Now, let me preface. I’ve never cooked any Thai food before… never a curry. But I love cooking with coconut milk and was craving a soup at a Thai restaurant I love in NYC. So I literally guessed at this process and added things progressively as I went along. The result was DELICIOUS! And it made a LOT of soup!
Ingredients – Soup
- 1 lb bag frozen shrimp, peeled and tails removed… the rise in demand in the U.S. for shrimp has produced some dangerous sources across the globe. Please buy responsibly. Chances are the cheap bag from the local grocer has bad energy about it.
- 2 cans coconut milk – I used one regular and one Lite.
- Fish sauce – purchased in the Asian section of most grocers.
- crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- a hot curry paste
- 1 8oz bag bean sprouts
- 1 small bunch of chives
- 1 lemon, plus more lemon juice as desired
Substitution note: I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but sesame oil would be more authentic. And I used bean sprouts because they’re inexpensive and I don’t use them enough. But bell peppers, carrots or a green vegetable sliced really thinly would also be great. And you can never go wrong with a little fresh ginger zested in.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive or sesame oil in a large soup pot on medium/high heat. When hot, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry paste and mash to dissolve. Add the thawed shrimp and saute for about 4 minutes. Strain the shrimp out in a colander set over a bowl, and return liquid to pot.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of curry paste, about 1 teaspoon of tumeric, the bean sprouts and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. Blend and bring up to heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the 2 cans of coconut milk and 3 cans of water. Bring up to a soft boil. Add the juice of one lemon, taste, and add more as desired.
- When hot, add back in the shrimp. Cut the chives into pieces about 2 inches long, and toss in.
- Add about a teaspoon of freshly crushed red pepper.
What I learned: Fish sauce is STRONG! It’s literally sardines, salt and a little sugar. It gives food a delicious richness but should be used wisely. I added 3 tablespoons and, when everything was put together, got brave and added a 4th. It was WAY too strong and salty. So I added some organic lemon juice I had in the fridge, which balanced it out. 3 would have been perfect… the more you know!
Side Dishing It:
Now I used Jasmine rice as a side dish and mixed it into the final result. My favorite way to cook rice is in a pressure cooker. This speeds up the cooking time, makes the rice more digestible and gives it a soft texture unmatched in any other method.
Pressure Cooker Jasmine Rice Directions:
- Put 2 cups of water, a few dashes of sea salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pressure cooker and bring it up to a soft boil.
- Add the rice and cover.
- Once the pressure cooker comes up to full pressure (hissing and singing away beautifully), set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Uncover when fully de-pressured.