The Puddings Start Tomorrow!

The joy of soup is in its relative simplicity, quickness and the instant gratification you get from the very first spoonful.
But, when I tell my Mother that I’m cooking soup for tea, she’s quick to point out: “how on earth will Paul be full on that?”
I have noticed that certain people from a certain generation feel that meat and two veg is the only meal you can serve your hardworking husband when he gets home from work.. After all, a strapping young man like that needs his nourishment.
What most people don’t know about Paul though, is that he was a vegetarian in his youth and in college survived on a diet of boiled rice and soy sauce. For which I thank him profusely.
Our conjoined lives are made that much easier by our non-committal to a raging, carnivorous desire to eat red meat garnished with the odd overcooked sprout or soggy carrot. We don’t spend our evenings gnawing on ribs and tossing the bones to our drooling, anticipatory hounds, or nibbling chicken wings clean, cartilage, tendons and all.
That’s not to say that we don’t have our moments. On next weeks menu is Oxtail Soup, made with one of the most gelatinous, meaty and flavoursome parts of the bovine beastie. And any leftover meat I plan to throw into a hearty Mulligatawny Soup.
But for last nights meal we tucked into steaming bowls of Green Thai Curry Soup, bolstered generously with Mange Tout, shredded chicken breast, French Beans and Beansprouts.
And that’s the thing about soup. You think it’s never going to be enough, but as you reach the bottom of the bowl, scooping out all the best bits that have sunk to the bottom, concealed like buried treasure beneath the pale green broth, you start thinking: “I couldn’t manage another bite. Well, maybe a couple of peanut M&Ms.”
For those of you who are Thai Green Curry virgins or have only used the stuff in jars, I would suggest that you try to make your own paste. Most ingredients are readily available from your local supermarket now and it keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge in a seal tight container (I keep mine in the little coffee/spice grinder I make it in), and in fact, improves over time, becoming more mellow and flavourful. At a push, the jarred pastes are generally quite good.
One final note: the vegetables and meat recommended are just that: a recommendation. We use what we have lying around. You could use prawns instead of chicken, or one of those mixed seafood selections (just remember to put them in at the very last moment lest the squid turn into rubber). Thinly sliced beef or pork would also add a good flavour to the soup. And just for the record: the meat is entirely optional. Vegetables could include fresh thinly sliced Shiitake Mushrooms, baby corn, Bok Choi, Aubergine, Courgette or perhaps even some diced squash. I also place some Straight to Wok noodles in the bottom of the bowls and pour the soup over the top. You could boil up some regular dried noodles if you’re not a fan of the Straight to Wok ones.
TIP! A way to make the soup even more nutritious and savoury is to add half a block of creamed coconut to a pint of boiling chicken/fish/vegetable stock and then stir in a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter. Whisk together well then add to the paste where you would normally add the coconut milk.
serves 4-6
Paste (from Nigel Slater's Appetite)
4 lemongrass stalks, tougher outer leaves discarded

2-6 green chillies (the 3” long ones), deseeded or not depending on your heat tolerance
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2" galangal or ginger, peeled
2 shallots or half a small white onion, peeled, cut in half
4 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chopped lime zest
1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
½ tsp ground black peppercorns
1 Tin Coconut Milk
400ml Chicken/Fish/Vegetable Fish Stock
500g Vegetables: baby corn, mange tout or sugar snap peas, halved Green Beans, Beansprouts, Diced Aubergine (nb: If you are using Aubergine, I would recommend frying it off with the meat before you add the paste, otherwise it just doesn’t taste that great), sliced Shiitake Mushrooms etc.
500g sliced Chicken (I used breast but thighs have a better flavour)/raw Prawns/thinly sliced Beef or Pork
3 Tablespoons Groundnut Oil
1 Tablespoon Nam Pla
Juice and Zest from 1 Lime
Half a Bunch of Chopped Coriander
Seasoning to Taste
To make the paste, throw all the ingredients into a spice grinder and whizz until fragrant and smooth. You may need to add a little more lime juice to get everything to cohere. Alternatively, you could probably do this in a blender or, the worst possible scenario, in a pestle and mortar.
To make the curry, heat the oil in a wok or shallow frying pan. Fry off the meat (i.e. chicken, beef, pork or aubergine if going for the vegetarian option) until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium and add a little more oil if the pan seems dry. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of your freshly made (or jarred) Thai Green Curry sauce. It will sizzle but then start to simmer. After a couple of minutes it will smell deliciously fresh and fragrant.
Pour over the coconut milk and stock or coconut/peanut butter mixture and bring to a brisk simmer. Leave to mingle for 5-10 minutes then add the Nam Pla, Lime Juice and Zest, browned Meat, Vegetables and half the chopped Coriander. Leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Taste for seasoning. I always need to add a little salt and pepper but you may not need to.
If you are using prawns or seafood add them now and simmer for a couple minutes more.
To serve, ladle into deep bowls and sprinkle with the remaining chopped Coriander.
You can also make this into a more substantial meal by adding a little cornflour dissolved in cold water to thicken it and serving with Jasmine Rice.


Bellini Valli said...

If you add a slice of bread even the most ravenous can easily be full with a bowl of soup for their meal.This soup would be exceptional all by itself!

Ivy said...

Hi, after your comments on my blog I noticed that you have a blog as well, so here I am. I've been browsing around your blog and have seen many interesting posts. Bye for now and shall read some more, later on.

Lydia said...

I love making very spicy green curry paste -- it never seems to last long, but I think that's because we love it and eat it all up. Your soup looks delicious and comforting.

T.W. Barritt said...

On the day of recovery after Thanksgiving, you've got me thinking seriously about soups. There are so many endless variations, and these are flavors I should experience more.

Kelly-Jane said...

A lovely soup! I make something similar, and once added in some noodles, to bulk it out a bit, but it was too much, the array of vegetables themselves was perfect =)

Cynthia said...

Paul & Freya, it is so good to see you all again. You have been missed dearly. While I did not communicate with you directly in your absence, you were not far from my thoughts. I used to check my feeds daily to see if you all had posted something.

Welcome back!

sra said...

Hi Freya and Paul, I can imagine how filling this must be - coconut milk is heavy. I envy you your mange tout - I find it here only rarely.

Wendy said...

Adore thai green curry but have never thought about turning it into a soup. Great idea. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Freya that is a magnificent looking soup and I know I couldn't have room for more than two peanut M&Ms when I reached the bottom of that bowl.

Deborah said...

I find that soup is more filling than a meat and 2 vegetables dinner. Even my husband - who can have quite an appetite sometimes - will get full on a bowl of soup!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I believe that soup is one of the most delicious meals! But it is true, often times, like its summer counterpart, salad, it looks like it can't be enough. This soup specimen looks absolutely delicious!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Lovely! I've only once made it from scratch the rest of the time always out of a jar. I add a few spoonfuls of the paste to soup sometimes when I want to perk it up a bit. Love your tip re: peanut butter. I bet it gives a great flavour.

Quellia said...

That looks good! Just the kind of meal that is great on a cold day.