With the Daylight Savings time change and spring just flying by, I perk my head up each evening and laugh in disbelief that it’s practically May already, y’all! With all the flurry of fun activity that comes with the lengthening spring sun, it’s usually 8pm before I finally notice the sun has gone down and it’s time for dinner. So quick and easy recipes like last week’s Chia Pudding become a staple or I end up busting out the take-out menu for some instant, warm comfort food. But what’s to be done when you’re craving the entire Thai menu? Or you can’t decide between the Thai curry or grabbing some hot Pho on your way home? This conundrum plunged me deep into some kitchen playtime this week. I thought: what can I make that gives me all my favorite Thai take-out items in one dish, but has no msg and is gluten-free, low-carb and vegetarian for all my veggie friends? And voilá–Thai Curry Vegetable Soup was created!
Just the simmering aromas wafting from my stovetop remind me of my trip to Thailand in 2011. Thailand had just experienced its worst flooding in over 50 years and I almost canceled my trip. But with a non-refundable ticket, I listened to an inner nudge that said to go on an adventure…and magic followed. I will always associate Thai Food with comfort because of the experiences I had on that trip. The kind, joyous people I met over lemograss-steamed fish when we stayed in a treehouse bungalow overlooking the crystal blue ocean. Snacking on green curry fried rice while walking underneath a sky aglow with 1000 floating lanterns. Drinking from coconuts on the white sand beaches of Koh Yao Noi. Stuffing myself on a buffet of Thai delicacies after feeding and bathing beautiful majestic rescued elephants in a rain forest reserve near Chaing Mai.
So as a warm embrace from Thailand to you, I want to share my Thai Curry Soup recipe with you. It’s spicy, salty, sour and sweet and you won’t find this on your take-out menu! This palate-tickling hotpot is a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian crowd-pleaser guaranteed to wow your loved ones at your next gathering!
Thai Vegetable Soup
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
- 4 tsp. of Coriander Seed
- 12 Cardamom Pods
- 10-15 Dried Red Chilies (depending on heat preference)
- 6 Limes
- 6 cloves of Garlic
- 2-inch knob of Galangal
- 5 small Shallots
- 3 stalks of Lemongrass
- 9 Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (if you cannot have this, substitute salt to taste)
- 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
- 64 oz. Vegetable Stock
- 28 oz. Unsweetened Coconut Milk (2 cans)
- 2 Japanese Eggplants
- 1 large Carrot
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 carton of Mushrooms
- 6 Zucchini
- 6 Baby Bok Choy
- 1 cup Bean Sprouts
- Cilantro (leaves & stems)
- Thai Basil
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
- ***Optional: Vermicelli Rice Noodles
Most Asian markets and some regular grocery stores may carry many of these specialty items, but we are lucky in Los Angeles because our beloved Thai Town is fully stocked with so many Thai markets. My favorite grocer is Bangkok Market on Melrose Avenue. The mom & pop feel of the place transports me back to Chiang Mai. Nothing makes Thai food sing like fresh Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Thai Basil.
Start by making your curry paste. With a mortar and pestle, crush 4 tsp. of Coriander Seed with 12 whole Cardamom Pods.
TIP: If you do not have a mortar & pestle, use a pepper grinder.
Deseed 10-15 dried Red Chilies, depending upon your spice preference. Discard the seeds. Crush the deseeded dried Chilies with the Cardamom and Coriander.
TIP: Be sure to immediately wash your hands when handling the chili seeds or wear gloves. DO NOT touch your eyes.
Peel and coarsely chop 6 cloves of Garlic. Cut the skin off of 5 small Shallots by cutting off the ends and peeling the dried layers off. Discard. Coarse-chop the Shallots and a 2-inch knob of Galangal. Mince 6 large Kaffir Lime leaves. Chop 2 Tbsp. of Cilantro stems. Set aside.
With a knife, cut off the top and bottom of the Lemongrass stalks. With the butt of the knife or a meat tenderizer pound the stalk so that it flattens, then mince.
In a food processor, puree the Garlic, Galangal, Shallots, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Lemongrass and Cilantro stems with ½ tsp. of Lime Zest (zest from 1 lime) and 1 tsp. of salt.
Add the dry mixture of Coriander, Cardamom and dried Chilies. Puree.
In a stockpot, heat 2 Tbsp. of Coconut Oil. Add the curry paste mixture from the food processor to the pot with 2 Tbsp. of Lime Juice and stir until browned. Add 2 Tbsp. of Fish Sauce, 3 whole Kaffir Lime Leaves and 2 Tbsp. of Brown Sugar.
TIP: If you are trying to avoid processed sugar, try substituting tamarind paste, honey or a pureed date.
Over medium heat, add the Vegetable Stock and Unsweetened Coconut Milk. Stir. Simmer for 35 minutes.
While the stock is simmering, rinse and chop the Mushrooms into large chunks. Chop the top off the Japanese Eggplant and discard. Chop the Eggplant into 1-2 inch thick chunks. Peel the Carrot and cut into long 4-inch strips. Deseed and cut the Red Bell Pepper into long strips. Chop the root off of the Bok Choy.
If you have a spiral slicer, spiral slice the 6 zucchini. There are many versions of this type of slicer online but this is the one I use: HERE It’s fun to use and the machine gives you long spiral “noodles” that are delightful to eat!
TIP: If you do not own a spiralizer, you can always use a peeler. Peel strips of zucchini length-wise, rotating around the core until you are down to the “core” housing the seeds. Discard the middle seeded area (this core is bitter). Set “noodles” aside.
After the broth has simmered for at least 35 minutes, increase the heat to medium. Add the chopped Mushroom, Eggplant and Carrot. After 10 minutes, add the Red Bell Pepper & Bok Choy. Cook for an additional 5 minutes right before serving. Remove the soup from the heat. Add the juice of 3 limes.
TIP: You will want the vegetables to still have some texture when serving, so if you are not serving the soup right away, wait to add the raw vegetables until 15 minutes before serving.
De-stem and chop the leaves of the Thai Basil, Cilantro and Mint in equal parts to create ½ cup of herb mix. Cut the last 2 Limes into wedges. Set aside.
In your individual serving bowl, add ¾ cup of Zucchini Noodles and a ¼ cup of Bean Sprouts.
As an OPTION to add more volume and texture to the soup, you can add cooked Vermicelli Noodles. If you choose to do this, bring water to a boil in a separate pot. Add the Vermicelli Noodles for 2-3 minutes. Strain and rinse. Set aside until ready to eat. Add them to the individual serving bowls.
Top the Zucchini “Noodles” and Bean Sprouts with a healthy serving of the piping-hot soup. Let the serving stand 5 minutes to “cook” the noodles before serving.
TIP: Make sure the soup is hot when ladling, so that the Zucchini “Noodles” cook in the bowl. I personally like to have a little bit more texture to the vegetables. If you would like the “noodles” to be softer, add them to the soup pot and boil for 1-2 minutes before serving.
Top each soup bowl with the herb mixture and a lime wedge, then sit back & admire the cornucopia of colors, smells and flavors.
BON APPÉTIT & enjoy sharing this taste of Thailand!
If you enjoyed this dish, check out my Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai Recipe: HERE.
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Words & Recipe by Sarah Prikryl // Photography by Sarah Prikryl
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