Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thai Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

I made this soup/stew the other day for my friends Alexandria and her husband Christian who were visiting from Vancouver.  I've known Alex since I was 18.  We auditioned together for theater school/university.

They loved this soup, but it's one of those things I've been making for so long it doesn't really have an official recipe.  It is really very tasty and very easy.  Here's the outline.... I encourage you to play with it until you find a version that is perfect for you.

I pureed this soup in a blender but it would work just as well as a chunky stew.  See how you feel; the chunky version seems more hearty and might work better when you are looking to serve something more stew-like, although, truth be told, it's equally rich and filling whether its chunky or smooth.

In a large stock pot add 1/4 cup canola or sunflower oil.  When it is hot, add 2 large onions chopped (if you are pureeing the soup it doesn't matter, if you are making a stew chop all the veg in a way that you like and think is pleasing), sweat the onions for about 5 minutes then add 2 large carrots peeled and roughly chopped, 2 Large Sweet Potatoes roughly chopped (about 4 cups), 2 cups water (or vegetable broth, add more if during cooking it gets too thick ), 1 1/2 cups grounds organic peanuts, 4 large tomatoes roughly chopped and 3-4 crush dried red chili peppers. and 1 Teaspoon of salt and a generous grating of Black Pepper, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and lightly cover.   Cook for about 45 until all the vegetables are soft.  Turn off heat and when cool enough to handle, in small batches, puree in a blender.  Add as much coconut milk (Thai unsweetened coconut milk) to thin the soup so it purees easily - I used about 2  - 13.5 ounce cans.  When each batch has been pureed return it to your soup pot.

In a small skillet or sauce pan heat 1-2 Tablespoons of canola or sunflower oil.  When the oil is hot add 4 Tablespoons of red curry paste (home made) stirring for about 30 seconds.  This is very aromatic and best done before your guests arrive!  Take off heat and add half of it to the soup and stir in until well incorporated.  Add 2 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce, 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce, 2 teaspoons of Palm Sugar (or brown sugar) stir to mix, taste.  I like it spicy, but the reason I have you make the paste on the side and add it gradually is so you can go slow and increase the heat and flavor to your liking.  Squeeze the juice of 2 limes into soup, adding Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Coconut Milk, Curry Paste, etc until you get it to where you like it.  You can thin the soup with water or broth if the coconut milk is too much.

Garnish with lots of chopped Cilantro and Scallions.

In traditional Thai style you can have a tray with wedges of limes, grounds peanuts, chopped scallion
and cilantro so people can adjust the seasoning to their liking. 

I think this would be great served with sticky rice as a side and a Green Papaya Salad or a crisp refreshing Watercress Persimmon and Pomegranate salad.

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