Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thai inspired Tomato Soup

Thai inspired Tomato Soup
This wonderful soup has bright fresh clean flavor –sweet, sour, and spicy with a subtle smokiness. Best of all – it takes less than 45 minutes to make, can be made a day ahead and frozen for future or subsequent use. How perfect is that! I pretty much love tomato soups any and all the time. This one is just so different from traditional tomato soups that you must add it to your repertoire.

Prepare 2 – 3 stalks of lemongrass by cutting off about an inch from the root end and cutting off the leaf end. If the stalk looks old – refresh it in clean water for 30 minutes. Remove the outer layers to get to the clean white stalk. It is now ready to be thinly sliced horizontally. Heat 2 Tb olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add 6 thinly sliced scallions (green onions), the chopped stalks of lemongrass and 1 ½ seeded, minced Thai or Fresno Chili. Cook until softened, about 4 -5 minutes. The chilies can be found in many grocery stores or Asian markets. It can also be found in a jar but they tend to be hotter so I would use less.  If unable to locate, you could substitute with 2-3 jalapenos or Thai Kitchen red curry paste.
Fresh lemongrass

Cut lemongrass
Thai chili (with a lemon to show size)
Add 2 ½ lbs fresh vine-ripened beefsteak tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups) or 28 oz can of good quality canned tomatoes. I use Italian tomatoes such as Cento Plum or San Marzano tomatoes, or Flora San Marzano. If Italian tomatoes are unavailable, use Muir Glen. High quality of your tomatoes is key. If it is not summer with fresh tomatoes at your Farmers Market – get canned. Cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.
Puree the soup
 Stir in 2¼ C Chicken or Vegetable stock, ¾ C coconut milk, 3 Tb fresh orange juice, 1 Tb fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam). Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes per batch. Just before serving stir in 2 Tb fresh lime juice from 1 – ½ fresh limes. Season to taste with kosher salt and more lime juice if desired.

Chill if desired or serve warm.  Garnish with about ¾ C pea tendrils or shoots, trimmed and snow peas (maybe 6-8) trimmed and sliced on the diagonal.   You could also garnish with ½ lb fresh lump crabmeat or cooked horizontally sliced scallops. You need to slice the scallops as they will be too heavy and not float.  This is a thin soup – so you need to carefully assess garnishes and their relative weight if you want it to float.
Mmmm....almost soup!
This soup would be a great way to kick off a meal or serve it simply with a grilled cheese sandwich. The best wine pairing would be Gewurztraminer, German Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.  However, most Thai food is often best with beer – maybe an ale or a pilsner.


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