This is the first in an occasional series based on what my wife Ramona and I get up to in the kitchen on weekends. Hey, no filthy thoughts! Whenever I can adapt a recipe we’re trying for use in my Thermomix, that’s what the recipe format will reflect.
For Christmas I bought Ramona the new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty More. It’s a follow-up to his immensely popular vegetarian cookbook, Plenty. We’re both looking forward to cooking lots of recipes out of it over the coming year, even if I did joke to her we could just ‘add a sausage’ to every recipe. The first recipe I tried was a steamed eggplant salad that relied on Asian flavours of sesame oil, soya sauce and rice vinegar. Today it was another Asian-influenced delight: Thai Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Chile Oil.
We already had some great Macadamia Nut Chile oil we brought back from Hawaii so I didn’t see the necessity of making Ottolenghi’s, especially since we wanted this soup for lunch!
Ingredients of note: Coconut milk, Red Curry Paste, Chile Oil, and Fish Sauce
Substitutions: The original recipe calls for sugar snap peas. I used fresh green beans grown in Mexico, declining to purchase snap peas grown in China. I didn’t have lemon grass, so did without, with no ill effects, I think. And because I had turkey stock in the fridge, I used that to cook the red lentils instead of water. And I used Thai fish sauce instead of salt. So this recipe is not strictly vegetarian. So sue me
Frozen ‘fresh’ Kaffir lime leaves
*Plenty More ingredient listings use a mix of metric weights and Imperial volumes. I’m going to try to put everything in metric as I go along. The Thermomix has a built in scale, so I use that in conjunction with a small digital standalone scale. Standard Thermomix instructions are in this format: time/temperature/speed, just like the order you enter them on the machine. Remember, these are not always the original ingredients or methods used in the recipe, but my adaptation.
120 g fresh green beans, topped and tailed
3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil (I used avocado)
160 g onions
1 1/2 tbsp (23 mL) Thai red curry paste
4 fresh Kaffir lime leaves, or 12 dried (I keep my fresh leaves in the freezer, so I used 12 of them)
250 g red lentils
1 400-ml can of coconut milk (recipe calls for 1 cup, or 250 mLs. Rather than have a bit of a can left, I used it all)
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) soya sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce
1 cup/15 g cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Bring a small pan of water to a boil, throw in a large pinch of salt and then the green beans. Blanch for 90 seconds, drain and rinse with cold water. Set them aside to dry, then cut them on the diagonal about a third of the length of your forefinger. (don’t cut your finger!) Set aside.
Chop the onions in the Thermie. 3 secs/speed 7. Scrape down the bowl. Add the oil. Cook 5 mins/Temp 100/speed 1. Add the curry paste. Cooks 1 min/Temp 100/speed 1.
[Or, saute the onions in the oil until soft, stir in the curry paste, cook some more. Add the lime leaves, lentils and stock/water, bring to boil and simmer until lentils are completely tender.]
Scrape down the bowl. Add the lentils, lime leaves, and stock or water. Cook 15 mins/Temp 100/speed 1, reverse. (Reversing the blades means the lime leaves won’t get cut up. They’re rather tough and fibrous, so you want to be able to take them out easily when the lentils are cooked. I counted them going in and coming out.)
Take the lime leaves out of the soup and puree until completely smooth. 45 secs/speed 9. Add the lime juice, soya sauce, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Mix together 5 secs/speed 4. Reheat 3 mins/Temp 100/speed 3. (the soup will be quite thick by this time)
[Or transfer from pot to blender and puree. Stir in lime juice, soya sauce, fish sauce and coconut milk. Return to pot and reheat to almost boiling.]
Ladle the soup into bowls. Mound some of the beans into the middle of each bowl, sprinkle with cilantro, and drizzle with chile oil to taste.
The finished product
While my soup didn’t have the darker reddish tone of the photo in the book (It was lighter in colour even before I added the coconut milk) it was very rich, silky smooth and nicely spiced. Add more or less fish sauce or chile oil to taste. Would I make it again? YES!
Tomorrow: Chicken with Mustard, from David Lebovitz’s ‘My Paris Kitchen‘.