Thai Coconut Soup

I always love trying new recipes, so I don't usually make the same thing twice unless it's really good. So you should know it's really saying something that I've made this Thai coconut soup more times than I can remember.

This soup recipe comes from my favorite vegetarian cookbook, Linda McCartney On Tour.* Ms. McCartney was an animal rights activist who refused to "eat anything with a face." Her cookbook is fantastic and contains recipes influenced by all sorts of different world cultures and cuisines. I do have to say that I disagree with her choice of name for this recipe -- she calls it "tom yum soup," but it has pretty much zero in common with tom yum (at least as I'm familiar with it). This soup has more in common with tom kha gai, since it has a coconut base, except this is a vegetarian version with lots more veggies. And in my opinion, more deliciousness.

Whatever you want to call it, this soup has lots of wonderful flavors, and like all good soups it tastes even better the next day.

 Thai Coconut Soup
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper (or other, if your store has interesting types), seeded and minced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (if my store doesn't have it, I sometimes add some lime zest instead)
  • 3/4 pound eggplant, cut into half-inch cubes
  • One 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • One 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • Cilantro, anywhere from 2 to 4 tablespoons (or none at all)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cooked jasmine, basmati, or long grain brown rice
  • Chopped peanuts, for garnish
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and lemongrass stalks (leave them whole, or at least in large enough pieces that you can easily remove them later). Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the eggplant and cook for about 4 minutes until it has browned. Stir in the sugar and tomatoes, and mix well. Add the stock, coconut milk, and cilantro (if using). Bring to a simmer, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes. Add the rice about 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Remove the lemongrass, pour the soup into bowls, and garnish with the chopped peanuts.

*Note: to be distinguished from my favorite vegan cookbook, which is definitely Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. You'll definitely see recipes from that book cropping up on this blog more than once.