Thai Coconut Shrimp (or Tofu) Soup

 

Another version of Thai Coconut Soup, with the cilantro chopped fresh and sprinkled on at the end!

Yesterday’s post described my big ski adventure to a hut deep in the Colorado mountains.  Being light years from the nearest grocery didn’t keep us from enjoying great cuisine, from potato-broccoli fondue to a hash brown scramble and apple crisp, to the Thai Coconut Soup that provoked yesterday’s post on the “Good to Better Continuum.”   In case you’re now hankering for Thai cuisine, here’s my recipe for a shrimp version, although tofu can easily be subbed for a vegetarian take.

Thai Coconut Shrimp (or Tofu) Soup                                                      Serves 4

  • 1 oz.  mung bean threads (See below for more info)
  • 2 cups boiling water

Place noodles in a small mixing bowl and cover with boiling water.  Set aside for about 10 minutes.  After noodles have softened, drain in colander, then use kitchen shears to cut roughly into 2-3” lengths.   Reserve.

  • 1 Tbsp. canola or safflower oil
  • 2 lrg. carrots, julienned and chopped into 2-3” lengths (about 2 cups)
  • 4 green onions, sliced ½” thick (about 1 cup) or 2 lrg. leeks, white and light green parts, diced to 1/2″ (about 2 cups)
  • 1-2 lrg. cloves garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh or bottled ginger
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. chili pepper flakes, to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pan until fairly hot.  Add carrots,onions or leeks, garlic, ginger and chili flakes, in that order, sautéing about 5 minutes total.

  • 1 6-oz. can regular, not lite, coconut milk
  • 1 qt. (4 cups) chicken broth

Add to vegetable mixture and simmer just 5 more minutes, until carrots and leeks are crisp tender but still vibrantly colored.

  • 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce, to taste
  • 7 oz. baby shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tails removed (or 8 oz. firm tofu, diced into ½” cubes)
  • 1-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste

Add fish sauce and shrimp (or tofu) to soup along with drained and cut mung bean threads.  Simmer just 2-3 minutes more, until shrimp turns pink and opaque (or tofu is heated through).  Remove from heat immediately and stir in sesame oil and lime juice, to taste.  Serve and garnish, as desired, with:

  • Chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Thin lime wedges (optional)

Notes

Mung Bean Threads? Way cool noodles made out of mung beans, so they’re ok for Gluten-Free folks.  But kids really like them, too, because they’re so very kid-like.  They start out as a wad of crackly white sticks but after just 10 minutes of soaking in boiled water, presto, they become soft, gelatinous noodles, great in Asian style soups, stir fries and lettuce wraps.  I cut them for better mouth manageability, but they can be left long for slurping.

Be Prepared for Speed This recipe is truly fast, so fast, in fact, that it’s advisable to have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go before beginning to cook.  Also have any side dishes either already, or almost all prepared.  It’s important that the soup not get overcooked or it will lose color and freshness.

Super Sides Speaking of side dishes, there are many nice accompaniments for this all-weather dish, depending upon when you decide to make it:

  • Spinach salad with fresh berries and curry vinaigrette
  • Steamed artichokes
  • Brown basmati rice
  • Plate of cucumbers and orange segments or cantaloupe balls
  • Roasted winter squash:  acorn, butternut, delicata, etc.

Make It Your Way A great thing about cooking is making a recipe exactly as you like.  There are three distinct flavors in this recipe that can be adjusted up or down to suit your tastes:

  • Salty:  Fish sauce
  • Sour:  Lime juice
  • Hot:  Chili pepper flakes

Words to the wise:  start small with seasonings, since you can always add more but can’t take away!  You might even experiment with a small amount in a bowl before adding it to the entire pot of soup.

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