Are you interested in experimenting with Asian flavors and don’t really know where to start? (You know, like my almost paralyzing aversion to trying to cook India food? Still haven’t done it, @BigAppleCurry! But I will soon, I promise!) My suggestion: embrace your fear of unknown spices and ingredients and try this warm-you-from-the-inside-out coconut curry soup that also just happens to be vegan. The colors and flavors of this soup are bright and intense–and it’s a really wonderful way to change up your winter soup rotation and add a different kind of heat to the bone chilling days of February. The best part? This soup is pretty impossible to screw up and you can put whatever vegetables you prefer (mushrooms, green beans, raw tomatoes, bean sprouts, and Thai basil are great additions when they are in season) to make it appeal to the dinner crowd you are trying to please.
If you are new to Asian food don’t be turned off by the spicy/salty/sweet combination that you’re seeing on the ingredient list. I’ve been making versions of this recipe for years, and it is only just recently that I started to add the pineapple, and now I can’t imagine this soup without it. Each cube provides a sweet burst that does something amazing with the spicy and savory coconut curry broth. Also, because the red curry paste is equal parts flavor and heat, that little bit of pineapple juice does a great job of neutralizing some of its spicy while still imparting that complex curry taste. It is one of Keith’s all time favorite soups that I make (but, since he draws the line at tofu, I always add some fresh wild caught shrimp for him), and I know once you try it you’ll love it too!
Also, please note that I wrote the ingredient list in the order that you will need each for the recipe. I find that when you have a list that is so long it also helps me to know when I will need each ingredient as well as how much of it.
1 tbs coconut oil
1 large yam, cubed
1 large onion, sliced
3 small carrots, diced
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 ½ fresh ginger, grated
1 ½ tsp thai red curry paste
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into three equal sections
1 ¼ tsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk (lite or regular will work)
48 oz (3 cans) vegetable stock
Few threads saffron for a little bit of luxurious color (or some turmeric for color)
½ large eggplant, cubed
½ green pepper, sliced
½ red pepper, sliced
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
¼ cup pineapple juice (from fresh cut pineapple)
7oz (½ package) tofu, cubed
Juice of 2-3 limes
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat coconut oil in large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and yams. Cook on high without stirring for 2-4 minutes, or until the vegetables get a little color. Stir, and let cook for another 2-4 minutes. Add lemon grass, curry powder, red curry paste, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and let cook until onions are slightly soft and start to become transparent.
Once mixture comes to a boil add eggplant and stir to incorporate. Return pot to medium heat and cook with lid on for 20-25 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and broth has thickened. Add peppers to soup mixture and stir to incorporate. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until peppers are tender, but don’t lose their color.
Even though I still maintain that this soup is so hearty and filling that it will deter the most adamant of carnivores from craving animal protein, if you want to make it a bit more luxurious you can add some wild caught jumbo shrimp during the last five minutes of the cooking process (but before you add the fruit juices, pineapple chunks, and cilantro). No matter who your audience is, they’ll be singing your praises while they like their bowls clean.