I’ve been making some sort of variation of coconut soup for some time now, with or without meat, always with some type of bitter greens and lots of herbs. In the winter, soup is a staple and my go-to lunch on most days as you may have seen from my Instagram posts. It’s nourishing, healthy, and simple to cook.
Ginger (left) and Galangal (right). Galangal is very hard and woody, although the center is a little softer with a strong citrus scent.
Bring 4 cups of vegetable/chicken broth to boil. Add roughly chopped lemongrass, shallots, cilantro stems, chili peppers, galangal root and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Pour contents through a sieve/strainer and press on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, discard solids. Return broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk, coconut/palm or brown sugar, salt, low sodium soy sauce/fish sauce (optional) and lime juice and simmer 5 minutes. Taste the broth and add more of the last 4-5 ingredients until they are singing! The trick to this soup is to harmonize the spicy, sweet, and sour flavors against the comforting backdrop of a creamy coconut broth.
Blanch the bitter greens by bringing a pot of water to boil, have ready a big bowl of ice water nearby. Add the greens to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, Using tongs, remove the greens to an ice bath to stop if from cooking. Once the greens are cooled, remove from ice bath and spin in salad spinner to remove excess water, and give them a rough chop
For the ragu, heat saute pan on medium heat, add coconut oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, add chopped green onions, garlic, shallots, peppers, and cilantro until the vegetables have soften, add ground meat/tofu (optional), crumble and cook until the meat is cooked through, you can add the greens to the ragu or you can saute separately for better presentation. Season with salt and garlic chili sauce.
Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the package. If you buy fresh rice noodles, be sure to check the ingredients list to avoid preservatives. Whole foods has fresh rice noodles (Pad See Ew noodles) sans any nasty stuff, I recommend it!
Put it all together, using a large soup bowl, add a serving of cooked rice noodles, a dollop of ragu, and a big serving of the bitter greens. Gently ladle the piping hot broth on top and garnish with cilantro, Thai basil, parsley or any edible green herbs you have. Enjoy with friends or family or share with a foe, they are sure to turn into a friend!
- 4 cups of chicken/vegetable broth
- 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, washed and roughly chopped
- 4 shallots, 3 peeled and roughly chopped, 1 diced, separated
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped
- 1½" galangal root, roughly chopped
- Stems from 1 bunch cilantro, trim ¼ inch off the bottom
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 cans of coconut milk, full fat
- 2 limes, quartered, more for garnish
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¼ lb of grass-fed ground beef or firm tofu (optional)
- 3-5 TBS garlic-chili sauce
- 1-2 bunch rapini, baby broccoli, broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
- 1 pkg rice noodles
- coconut/palm/or brown sugar, 2 tablespoons, to taste
- fish sauce, to taste (optional)
- reduced sodium soy sauce, to taste
- coconut oil
- Make the broth, add the first 6 ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil, simmer 15-20 minutes, strain, pressing on solids and return broth to pot. Add coconut milk, and sugar, salt and fish sauce, if using or soy sauce and taste, add salt as needed. You want to balance the flavors between sweet, sour and salt, add lime juice to taste.
- Blanch the greens, bring a pot of water to boil, add salt, add greens, cook 2 minutes, remove to a prepared ice bath, once cooled, spin dry and roughly chop
- Make the ragu, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bottom of a heated saute pan, add shallot, garlic, cilantro and green onion and saute until soften, add ground meat/tofu, cook while breaking up into small pieces. Add salt and pepper and garlic chili sauce to taste
- Cook the rice noodles as instructed on the package. Divide the rice noodles, ragu and blanched greens into bowls and ladle piping hot broth, garnish with lime wedge and cilantro or other herbs.
- Serve immediately or store each component separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.