To begin, I would like to thank everybody for the all the encouraging words that I’ve received since first posting last night, feeling especially grateful to my roommate who couldn’t be more supportive and patient with me. Thank you! Now, cooking time!
Soups are one of my favorite things to cook, for they can be very easy, forgiving and satisfying at the same time. It seems silly to put all soups under one category, taking that they range greatly in all possible characteristics: they can grow your appetite or fill you for the day; they can ask for three hours of cooking time or as little as ten minutes, its effects ranging from energizing to soporific. One thing is a given: whenever I have soup, it feels like I take good care of myself. There is a special place for them in my fantasy bistro, with a regular, weekly schedule.
Today’s soup is a quick fix for a rumbling stomach and that internal cold after a long, long day out. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegeterian”, with some veganizing tweaks. It’s almost like an Asian version of a dhal, just as simple and nourishing. The ingredients list seemed unappealing to me at first, but the result is a lovely combination of sweet and spicy, with the freshness of lemongrass and cilantro cutting through it.
Corn, Coconut Milk and Lemongrass Soup
adapted from Maria Elia's "The Modern Vegeterian"
(serves 1 hungry person or 2 as a starter)
1 tbsp oil
1cm fresh ginger
1 stick lemongrass (can be roughly substituted with ½cm extra ginger + zest of ½ lemon)
½ small onion
¼ fresh red chilli (or red chilli powder adjusted to taste)
300g sweet corn, canned (1 large can)
½ can coconut milk
1 tbsp cashew nuts
1 handful fresh coriander
Chop the spices, then fry the ginger, onion and chilli (if using fresh) in oil until soft. Add chopped lemongrass (or lemon zest) and coconut milk, all but 2tbsp corn (plus chilli powder, if using). Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, chop the cashew nuts and coriander, mix it with remaining 2tbsp corn. This will serve as garnish for your soup.
Check if the soup is not too thick, add water if needed. Taste, add salt, sugar, pepper and lemon as needed. Transfer to a blender or blend with an immersion blender. I strained my soup because I wanted something completely smooth, but you don’t have to fiddle so much with it.
Serve hot with a tablespoon of the garnish and maybe an extra drop of coconut milk.