Friday, January 25, 2013

Thai Shrimp-and-Coconut Soup with Lemongrass

* Gluten-Free * Healthy * Weeknight Winner *

This soup will knock your socks off. And even though it’s so darned easy to throw together, I have listed a few shortcuts you can take. Now go! Get to the store before the snow starts to stick and buy ye some Asian staples to make this immediately. It will warm your belly on this chilly winter’s night!

Thai Shrimp-and-Coconut Soup with Lemongrass
Courtesy of Food & Wine
Serves 4

5 Thai chiles, seeded and chopped (see Editor’s Note)
4 stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender inner bulb only, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
3½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
¼ cup Asian fish sauce
¼ cup tamarind concentrate
6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (I can’t find these where I live – so I sprinkle some lime zest from the lime I’m already using over the top of the soup when I serve it. It’s pretty and tasty!)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¾ pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Cooked rice vermicelli

In a blender [or food processor], combine the chiles, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallot and ¼ cup of water and puree until smooth.

Editor’s NoteHere’s the deal. Don’t waste time chopping stuff that is going into a blender or food processor. Just give it a whack and toss it in.

What? Oh, you want to save more time? Ok – instead of whacking at garlic, lemongrass and ginger, pick thy up some of these gems from Gourmet Garden. They’re in the produce section of the grocery. You’re welcome.

In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut oil. Add the lemongrass puree and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, tamarind, lime leaves and 1½ cups of water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup is flavorful and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

Stir the lime juice into the soup and season with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and simmer until slightly curled and just cooked through, about 1 minute. Ladle the soup into bowls, add the rice noodles, sprinkle with lime zest if using, and serve with copious amounts of napkins. And then try to figure out if this should be eaten with a fork or a spoon. My son prefers the mouth-to-plate approach and I think he's on to something.

See? I told you it was easy!

For a printable version of this recipe, please click here.

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