Simple Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup
I’ve always been a fan of coconut. Growing up in India I used to relish slurping coconut water from a young coconut sliced open in font of me by a machete yielding vendor. After sucking out every last refreshing drop, I’d hand the coconut back so he could masterfully chop up the shell and scrape out the slippery young coconut flesh. This is called “malai” because it’s as tender and thin as the skin formed on top of pipping hot milk as it cools. I love coconut malai.
This love for coconut didn’t stop with fresh coconut. My grandmother will proudly tell you how I lick my fingers after eating her coconut burfi, an Indian sweet that basically consists of coconut, cardamom and a sweetener. In fact, even as a younger child in America, I loved Mounds – NOT Almond Joy because the almond just got in the way of the soft ecstasy that coconut brings.
So, it’s no wonder that I love Thai food. There is coconut hidden generally behind every bite. They even put coconut milk in rice. Which incidentally is the best way I’ve ever eaten rice.
This recipe for Tom Kha soup has become a regular visitor to my dining table because it really features the coconut milk front and center. Even though you are adding vegetables and broth and spices – make no mistake – this entire soup is really just an elaborated way to consume coconut.
I’ve made this recipe many different ways. The key ingredients to always use are fresh lemongrass and coconut milk. After that it really is a hodgepodge of whatever vegetables I find in my fridge. It always, always turns out beautiful.
Vegetarian Tom Kha Soup
Makes: 4 – 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 fresh lemongrass stalk
- 1 handful of button mushrooms (about 6)
- 1 carrot (optional)
- 2 dried red chili peppers
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 bell pepper
- 2 small stalks of chinese broccoli (optional)
- 8 ounces extra firm tofu
- 1 can coconut milk (14 fl ounces)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
- coriander for garnishing
- squeeze of lime (optional)
- chili sauce (optional)
2. Mince the chopped lemongrass using a mixer. Add to the stock and boil for about 5 minutes.
3. Slice the mushrooms and the carrot. Mince the garlic or use a garlic press. Add the mushroom, carrots, garlic and dried red chilis to the stock. Boil for another 5 minutes.
4. Slice the bell pepper. Chop the broccoli and tofu. Add bell pepper, broccoli, tofu and cherry tomatoes to the stock. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
5. Turn the heat to low. Add the coconut milk and soy sauce. Taste the soup and add lime, salt and/or chili sauce based on your preference. Serve hot garnished with coriander. Yum!