Thai-Inspired Coconut Soup with Podding Radishes and Tofu

April 22, 2013

Thai-Inspired Coconut Soup with Podding Radishes and Tofu

Kusuma Rao, Ruchikala

This soup is made with a base paste and aromatic broth consisting of pureed lemongrass and galangal. This soup is really fantastic with the freshly soup base/paste (recipe below). The homemade base paste is a nice introduction to making homemade curries. If you’re short on time you can always omit the broth and base paste, substituting a store bought curry paste instead. You can also choose to add chopped galangal and lemongrass to the soup at the end, rather than making the broth.

Equipment needed: blender

Ingredients:

Aromatic Broth:
1 3-inch piece of galangal cut into pieces
1 stalk of lemongrass (white and light green part only) cut into 2 inch pieces

Soup Base Paste:
1 large red onion or 3 shallots cut into even slices
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teteaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 green Thai chilies (depending on heat preference)
1 teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup:
1 tablespoon of oil
1 cup of tender young podding radishes (de-stemmed and cleaned)
2 cups of shredded cabbage
3 ½ cups of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of palm sugar
Approximately 2 cans of coconut milk (or 1 can of coconut cream with equal parts water)
1 package of medium tofu, drained and cut into cubes
Fresh Thai chilies (1-5 depending on taste)
Cilantro (garnish)

Prepare the aromatic broth,

1) Prepare the aromatic broth: coarsely chop the galangal and lemongrass and add to the blender with 2 cups of water. Puree until it comes together to a consistent puree and everything has been broken down. Pour the mixture into a sieve and squeeze out the liquid. Discard the course fibers and set liquid aside. Lightly rinse the blender and save for later use.

Make the paste,

1) In a large skillet on medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of oil and sliced onions or shallots. Fry for 10 minutes with a teaspoon of salt until they start to caramelize, stirring continuously to ensure the mixture does not burn.
2) Add garlic and whole green Thai chilies. Sauté the mixture for another five minutes. If the mixture starts to stick at the bottom of the pan, add a few tablespoons of water and scrape up anything that has stuck to the bottom of the pan.

3) Add ½ cup of water to the pan and scrape mixture into the blender. Add spices to the blender and puree to a smooth and even consistency. If the mixture is having a hard time coming together in a blender you can a few tablespoons of water to get it going. Add to a small bowl and set aside.

Make the soup!

1) Add oil to a medium-large stock pot on medium high heat and toss in the podding radishes. Lightly fry for 3-4 minutes with a ½ teaspoon of salt.

2) Add shredded cabbage and fry for another 3 minutes until the cabbage has wilted slightly.
3) Add ½ cup of the soup base paste/ or two tablespoons of storebought curry paste and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or two.
4) Add Coconut milk (or coconut cream+water) and palm sugar*. Stir to combine and then add the tofu. Simmer gently on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

5) Lightly bruise the Thai chilies with the back of you chef’s knife, just to “awaken” the chilies and add the fresh chilies into the soup. Season to taste. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

*You can use a heavy object such as a small hammer or meat tenderizer to breakdown stubborn palm sugar.

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