Welcome to a new series on automatism — Cuisine, devoted to the pleasures of the table. I am thrilled to start things off with a wonderful recipe by Justine Craig-Walmsley, an Ottawa, Canada-based food writer who is also a gifted food stylist (these stunning photos are all by her, too). Bon appétit!
Thai Spring Vegetable Soup
Cooking this soup is a good way to eat up all those delicious green vegetables available at the farmers market at this time of year. Asparagus, sugar snap peas, baby kale, swiss chard, bok choy...the combinations are endless. My trick is to steam the vegetables separately, and then combine them with the rest of the soup only once I'm ready to serve. This keeps the vegetables from overcooking in the hot broth, so you get delicious, crisp-tender vegetables, with almost all of their nutrients still intact. This recipe has a high vegetable to broth ratio, which is how I prefer it. If you like your soup to be a bit more, well, soupy, you can thin the broth with additional stock. Some of the ingredients I call for can be a little hard to find, but they are definitely worth seeking out, as they give this soup incredible flavour.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp green curry paste
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
- 3 stalks of lemongrass, bottom trimmed, top four inches and outer layer removed, cut into three
- a large handful of kaffir lime leaves
- 1.5 tbsp of coconut palm sugar or cane sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- fish sauce, to taste
- salt, to taste
- cilantro, chives and/or Thai basil, washed and dried very well
- 7 cups of assorted green vegetables, washed, and cut into bite-sized pieces (kept separate)
- In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat the oil until fragrant over medium low heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until translucent.
- Add green curry paste, stir into onion, and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add minced garlic, and cook until fragrant. This should only take about thirty seconds.
- Stir in coconut milk, stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and sugar. Bring to a boil, scraping up the bottom of the pot, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for approximately twenty minutes.
- Meanwhile, you can steam your vegetables in a bamboo or metal steamer. Steam one type of vegetable at a time, only until they turn bright green, then remove to a large plate, and repeat with the following vegetable.
- Once the broth has simmered for twenty minutes, remove the lime leaves and lemongrass pieces and discard. This is easiest to do with a pair of tongs. Add lime juice, and a few splashes of fish sauce, and taste. Season with additional fish sauce or salt to your taste.
- Now you're ready to serve. Ladle some of the broth into each bowl, then top with your green vegetables and some of your fresh herbs. Enjoy!
— Justine Craig-Walmsley