I stumbled across Thai curry paste in one of my first grocery trips in the big city and was so curious and excited. I don’t know whether it was super common then and I was just a small town girl (start singing Journey lyrics here), or whether it has now become more readily available with the popularity of Thai cuisine. Whatever the case, the curry paste in this recipe can be found at most grocery stores, and is the proverbial tie that binds everything together in a perfect harmony of delicious, creamy, spicy, sweet, soupy goodness.
This recipe is a healthier gluten free pascatarian version of the one included on the label of my aforementioned first jar of Thai curry paste, and after tweaking it for several years, this is my favourite and the easiest version. Use a Dutch Oven for best results.
4 tbsp coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium cooking onion, chopped
2-3 inches of fresh ginger root, chopped
2-3 cups of frozen Thai vegetable mix OR 2 cups fresh snap peas, sliced red pepper, sliced cremini mushrooms, julienned carrots, beans, and chopped broccoli (see why frozen is better?)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 400ml can of whole coconut milk
1/2 carton or 450ml no or low salt vegetable broth (Add the whole carton for more soup…it just won’t be as coconuty)
1 tbsp lemongrass paste OR 1 blade of lemon grass, cut into 4 large pieces
1/2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp of coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar but know it’s not natural)
1/3 package of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
Garnishes: Cashews, fresh cilantro, chilli flakes, lime squeezes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a dutch oven on medium heat and let warm. Add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion and ginger, and let cook until the onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes. Turn pot to medium-high and add frozen vegetables to sear and avoid sogginess; cook 5 minutes (if using fresh vegetables, you can do the same but reduce cooking time 2-3 minutes).
Add fish sauce, coconut milk, vegetable broth, lemongrass, red curry paste, and coconut sugar. Stir the pot a few times, then cover and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The soup should cook down an inch or two. Once out of the oven, remove the lemongrass pieces if you used fresh.
While the soup is in the oven, heat the remaining coconut oil to medium high and place the tofu pieces in the hot oil, turning every 2-3 minutes until all sides are golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain.
Once soup is finished, ladle into bowls and garnish with tofu pieces, cashews, cilantro, and chilli flakes. Squeeze the lime over the soup, then drop in the bowl. Enjoy!
UP THE PROTEIN: Add cooked chicken or raw red lentils to the soup before it goes in the oven.
WHEN YOU’RE CRAZY HUNGRY: Add a handful of pre cooked quinoa to the bowl before you ladle the soup in for a starch free meal, or use brown rice noodles or brown or black rice if you’re body is craving starch.
Note: This dish can be made vegetarian by adding 1 tbsp salt in place of the fish sauce, and using vegetarian Thai red curry paste.