I discovered yesterday that turning on the weather forecast to see a week's worth of rain is pretty disheartening. Like being eight years old and opening my mom's day planner to find a week's worth of dentist's appointments.
But my husband is outside, grilling in the rain— a true devotee of the craft. If I weren't so desperate for the advent of grill season and its accompanying sun and warmth, I'd pull him back inside before he catches a cold, and make this soup for dinner instead.
This soup was the very first recipe I tried out of the Moosewood: New Classics book that my good friend gave me for Christmas. It really is so, so simple— mostly a dump-and-stir affair— but it took me a long time to get the recipe exactly where I wanted it. At first try I wanted more substance (more things to chew on!); then more lemongrass and less carrot; then more body in the broth. The final result has a light, clean taste and a satisfying bit of chew in the mushrooms and noodles. It tastes best as hot as you can stand it.
Thai Coconut Soup
adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant: New Classics
6 cups water
3 fresh lemongrass stalks, bruised with the flat end of the knife until they release a bit of juice, and coarsely chopped
3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, sliced
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 celery stalks
1 leek or onion
½ teaspoon salt
1. In a large soup pot, combine the water, lemongrass, ginger, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. While the pot is simmering, coarsely chop the celery and onion, and peel and chop the carrot. At the 20-minute mark, add the celery, onion, carrot, and salt to the pot. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
3. Drain the vegetables in a strainer and return the stock to the soup pot. Press on the vegetables, squeezing their juices into the stock.
Can be made the day before. Cover and keep chilled.
4 ounces thin rice or wheat noodles
1 recipe Lemongrass Stock
14-ounce can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
pinch of cayenne, or to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cake extra-firm tofu (6 ounces), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package (10 ounces) thinly sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
minced scallions and fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)
1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and reserve.
2. Meanwhile, add the coconut milk, lime juice, cayenne, and turmeric to the lemongrass broth and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, and cilantro (if using), and simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes, until tofu is heated through and mushrooms are tender. Add salt to taste.
3. Add the noodles to the soup and stir to combine. Serve piping hot.