A little bit salty, a little bit spicy, a little bit sour and a little bit sweet. This is my idea of the perfect bowl of soup. Add in some slippery noodles and a tangle of Asian greens and I’m one happy lady. As I’ve mentioned before, soup is not something I cook all that often. I love it, Ada loves it. But the boys of the family just don’t get it.
I’ve been up every night over the long weekend nursing my poor little sick babies. So today while they were home off school for another day, I thought it would be the perfect time to treat Ada and I to a bowlful of spicy soup. (Kye was still too sick to eat much so was happy just eating a piece of toast as we tucked in). This is one of those curry-esque type soups that’s fragrant and full of all the Southeast Asian flavours I love; kaffir lime leave, lemongrass, chilli and ginger, although galangal would be much more authentic to use if available and affordable where you live (same goes for using shallots in place of red onion if you can). Candlenuts are used as a thickener and also lend a beautiful flavour to the soup. But of course if you can’t track them down I’ve listed a bunch of alternatives in the recipe notes below, so everyone can make it!
I like to use fermented tofu in place of shrimp paste in Southeast Asian recipes as it gives the same kind of full bodied flavour, without the shrimp. It’s easily picked up from your local Asian grocery store and can be kept indefinitely in the fridge once opened.
I’ve keep things rather simple here using finely sliced carrots and Asian greens, but this soup is the perfect base to add whatever vegetables you may have lurking in the depths of your fridge.
Lastly, aside from looking after sick kids it’s been a pretty exciting week for me and this here blog. I’m still coming down from being featured on Oprah.com and just yesterday was listed as one of Australia’s top 10 food bloggers on She Knows. I gotta say, it feels pretty nice to be recognised for all the work that I put into this blog.
And one quick final note… just making sure you’ve all watched and shared this short film and this one also? Please help spread the word people. Xx~Emm
spicy coconut noodle soup
Find candlenuts, fermented tofu, lemongrass and lime leaves at your local Asian grocery store. While you’re there, pick up a packet of your favourite rice noodles. If you have leftover kaffir lime leaves, these can be frozen and used straight from the freezer next time. If you can’t find candlenuts, an okay substitute is raw macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, or raw blanched almonds. They don’t taste the same, but do give the same texture to the soup. I used rice vermicelli, but feel free to use whatever rice noodles you like, and simply cook them according to the instructions on the packet. As always, make sure you check the ingredients on your can of coconut milk. It should read coconut kernal and water. That’s it. Don’t buy ones with nasties in them… Lastly, don’t be tempted to have a nibble of the raw candlenuts. They are slightly toxic until cooked!
- 5 candlenuts
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 long red thai chilli, finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons drained fermented tofu
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoon rice bran oil
- 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised
- 2 cm piece of ginger or galangal, peeled
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks/julienne
- 2 cups (500ml) coconut milk
- 2 cups (500ml) cold water
- 1 bunch Asian greens, washed well
- juice 2 limes + extra lime wedges to serve
- fine sea salt, to taste
- cooked rice noodles, to serve* see head notes
- finely shredded kaffir lime leaves, to serve
- crushed chilli flakes, to serve, optional
To make the spice paste, grind candlenuts in a mortar and pestle. Add red onion, garlic and chilli. Pound until relatively finely ground. Add fermented tofu, ground coriander and turmeric. Pound to form a paste. Alternatively blitz the whole lot in a food processor until a fine paste forms, scraping the sides down a few times to help move it all along.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice paste and cook out for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and carrots, cook for a further minute or two, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly to prevent the coconut milk from splitting. Cook for a minute to soften the carrots then add the Asian greens, stir until just wilted (1-2 minutes). Remove from the heat, add lime juice and season well with sea salt, to taste. Pick out lemongrass and ginger if you can fine it and discard and warn everyone to pick out the kaffir lime leaves. Serve soup over cooked rice noodles, sprinkle over a few pinches of shredded kaffir lime leaves and a pinch of chilli flakes. Serve immediately with extra lime wedges.
To store leftovers; cool, then transfer the soup and veges to one container and keep the noodles in another. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. Reheat soup gently in a pan then pour over noodles to re-heat them.