Monday, May 17, 2010

Thai-Style Shrimp Soup by Tom

Thai-Style Shrimp Soup by Tom

We have contractors in the house today, so a good time to steal away to the computer and enter the dinner soup that I made last Monday when Barbara was painting with her friend Lin.  Barbara had made a version of this soup several years ago, and we both thought it would be a tasty, lower fat dinner to make after a day of activities.

The Ingredients

~1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 lemon grass stalks halved about 5" long (I used a jar of lemongrass already sliced up - about 2 tbs)
3 large shallots chopped
1 green onion sliced (optional)
8 sprigs of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 cups (about 2 cans) low-sodium chicken broth
2  14 oz cans of lite coconut milk (you can use full strength coconut milk, but is has much more fat)
1 tablespoon sugar, preferably brown sugar
1/2 lb button mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced in half
30 uncooked, cleaned and shelled shrimp
3 tablespoons juice from fresh limes
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (adjust this to your taste: a little less for less spice, a little more for more heat!)

I used frozen shrimp from Wegman's (where else!), so I defrosted it in cold water.

Chop up the shallots and green onion.  If you are using fresh lemon grass, this is where you would cut the stalk to about a 5" length and then halve the stalk.

Heat the vegetable oil in large pan over medium heat.  This is a "one pot meal", so be sure to use a heavy and large enough cooking pot to hold all of the ingredients.  Add the chopped shallots, chopped green onion, and the lemon grass stalks (or in my case, the already chopped lemon grass from the jar) to the heated oil. Also add the cilantro that was coarsely chopped and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce.  Cook, stirring frequently until just softened and the shallots are slightly translucent.  You are not trying to brown the vegetables.

Stir in the chicken broth and one can of the coconut milk.  Increase the heat and bring to a simmer.  Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors are blended.  I cooked this mixture for about 18-20 minutes.  The whole point of this step is to infuse the flavors of the shallots, cilantro, green onion, lemon grass and fish sauce into the chicken broth/coconut milk mixture.

While the broth is simmering, in a small bowl combine the lemon juice, red curry paste and the remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce.  Stir this all together to dissolve the red curry paste into the liquids.  Set aside.

After the infused broth has simmered for the 18-20 minutes, strain the broth of all the solids.  I took a slotted ladle and just fished it all out and threw it away.  You can pour it through a strainer if you want into a large bowl.  Then return the mixture to the cooking pot.  Don't worry if you have a few "solids" left in the broth.  Bring the mixture back to a simmer over medium heat.

Clean, de-stem and halve the button mushrooms while reheating the broth.

Add the mushrooms to the simmering broth and bring back to a boil.  Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes.

Now add the cleaned, shelled shrimp to the broth and mushroom mixture.  Bring it back to a boil and cook until the shrimp are firm, about 4-5 minutes.

We had some leftover snow peas, so I threw them in at the last minute to just heat them up.  This is an optional ingredient, which is why I did not list it above.  But any leftover vegetable will taste good in this soup.

Remove the soup from the stove after the shrimp have finished cooking.  Now is the time to stir into the soup the bowl of red curry paste, lime juice and fish sauce that was previously made and set aside.  Garnish with some additional cilantro and red pepper flakes.

                           ----Tom

"We used shrimp but you could use chicken, too. It's the broth that is so wonderful in this soup."

                       ---Barbara

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