If you have ever taken a class series with me (like my ongoing after school classes) you know I love soup. Soup might just be the perfect food. I can make a stock from my kitchen scraps (whether meat or vegetable), it works on hot or cold days, it saves me whether I’m overloaded with vegetables or have a serious lack of vegetables. In my eyes it’s pretty magical. So magical I have contemplated doing a whole year of soups. This thought makes me giddy just considering. I digress.
Some years my students are right there with me with enthusiastic “You are so right, it’s perfect soup weather!” But who am I kidding? Pretty much every year (minus the eye-to-eye fellow soup lover I may have dreamed up) most “we’re making a soup!” days are followed by moans of “again?!” (Reality: this “again” complaint is unfounded. I am aware of my own overzealous soupiness and am careful to make no more than two soups any given semester. Two soups out of 26 weeks I would say is a pretty good ratio.)
That’s besides the point.
The point here is that this soup is good. It’s really good.
It’s so good students wrote the recipe down to take home.
And that’s a very good sign. Why? Because often the only recipes getting copied down are the two sweet recipes we make in our 26 week semester.
This recipe is so good a student casually thought out loud,
“this is like, almost as easy as the ramen packet I make and way better.”
This recipe is so good a student asked not once, but twice where to purchase coconut milk. (Answer: any substantial grocery store these days should carry unsweetened coconut milk.)
This recipe is so good a student complained that his chef dad makes a better Thai soup but still asked for seconds because, “I mean, I’m just really hungry and I guess this is all we have to eat.” [Shrug.]
(By the way I reject this student’s response because (a) his father is a chef and (b) his father is Thai– I’m glad his father can rock a better soup. I even requested the recipe.)
Thank you to my students who make me feel better, even when attempting to make me feel worse.
Let’s flashback to this soup though. It really is so easy and take so little time. It’s worlds better with a homemade stock but rock it as we did in class with a quick water-based stock and you still have something, in the eyes of my students, that tastes better than a ramen packet (phew).
Thai-Style Coconut Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2-inch piece of gingerroot, thinly sliced and smashed with side of knife
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed and smashed with side of knife
2 cloves garlic, smashed, papery peels discarded and minced
1 small zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch ovals
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced
8 crimini or shiitake mushrooms, tough stems discarded, and sliced if large
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon mild curry powder, recommend Singapore-style
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups water
Juice of 1 small lime
Salt to taste
4 ounces bean thread noodles, prepped according to package directions
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and torn into small sprigs
Optional seasonings: Fish sauce and a spoonful or two of sugar
Warm soup pot over medium heat. Add coconut oil. Stir-fry ginger, lemongrass and garlic until aromatic. Add zucchini, pepper and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Sprinkle with curry powder and toss well.
Add coconut milk and water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Season soup with salt and lime juice. Thai cooks might add a spoonful or two of fish sauce plus sugar to balance the astringency of the lime.
Divide bean thread noodles among bowls and top with vegetables, broth and a handful of cilantro.