Since Sukkot is just around the corner (yup, starts this Friday night), Daniel and I thought “why not a soup challenge”?
Well, you may not have asked, but we answered! I present to you, Vegetarian Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup). This soup is total comfort in a bowl – warming aromatics, earthy, umami flavors and a perfect blend of spice and brightness of acidity. To be honest, any kind of hot soup is perfect for a chilly night in the Sukkah, but this one will warm your whole body with the bold spices.
Maybe it’s because Daniel made his Thai basil chicken tacos recipe a few weeks ago but lately I’ve just been craving Thai food. The kind of spice that isn’t too overpowering but you feel that heat develop with each bite. That’s what I’ve been wanting lately!
I had all of these ingredients at home already, so if you’re like me, you may only need to get a few extras. I stock up on coconut milk and coconut cream (mostly from Trader Joe’s) to use as a parve “cream” for soups, or desserts! And the fresh lime just takes it over the top with the perfect acidity punch. If you’re wondering where to find Thai red curry paste, I snagged some at The Spice House in Evanston. Note – be sure to check their Milwaukee catalog if you’d like to confirm what’s kosher.
And since it was tricky for me to find kosher Thai red curry paste, I made my own! It’s super easy to make with ingredients you probably already have. And for the fish sauce? I got the Red Boat certified kosher (OK) on Amazon, but if you don’t have it, you can substitute soy sauce, coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce. if you use Worcestershire sauce, you’ll still get a good “funk” that’s needed, but not as much from soy sauce or coconut aminos, but it’ll still give a nice umami flavor. Feel free to top your soup with a drizzle of fish sauce along with sliced green onions, cilantro and squeeze of lime.
My twist on tradition (as usual)
This soup is traditionally made with chicken but I decided to omit it and make it parve. The mushrooms really give a nice meaty flavor and you don’t miss the meat at all, especially with SO much flavor! But if you prefer to make this a fleishig soup, use chicken broth and add in some chicken breasts when you add in the stock and coconut milk. You can also top this soup with more sliced chilies, if you want more of a PUNCH. Of course, if you DO use chicken for this recipe, make sure to substitute the fish sauce for soy sauce or coconut aminos, or if you can find fish-free Worcestershire sauce, by all means, do it!
Another part of the traditional recipe includes galangal (Thai ginger, but I used regular ginger) and Kefir lime leaves. You can get some dried online or you can find it in specialty stores, but using regular limes for this recipe is totally acceptable – that’s that’s what I did. 🙂
When I made the soup to take photos, I basically inhaled 2 bowls of it. And no, I’m not ashamed of that! It was incredibly satisfying and the perfect amount of heat. Shockingly, my husband Elliott actually tried it! Knowing that he hates mushrooms (or maybe he wasn’t sure what was in it), he didn’t hate it! That’s a win in my book – always.
Oh, and don’t judge my very obvious old and faded cutting board. I guess it’s time for a new one? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Chag Sameach everyone! May your Sukkot holiday be filled with good food and good company (for those who ARE having company over).
- 1 tbsp. Red Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp. Fish Sauce Or substitute soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. Neutral Oil, like avocado oil
- Squeeze of half a lime
- 1 tbsp. Coconut oil
- 1/2 large onion, diced Or 1 small-medium onion, diced
- 2 Garlic cloves, peeled and diced
- 1/2 Jalapeno, seeded (if you want less heat) and minced Or use a 3-4 Thai chilies, minced
- 1 Inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
- 1 Lemongrass stalk Remove the tough outer stalks and cut off the root. Then pound it with a meat mallet or with the side of a knife and cut into 2-inch long pieces, this helps release the natural oils! If you can't find lemongrass, you can substitute lemon zest!
- Red Thai Curry Paste See recipe above
- 4 cups Vegetable stock Or use chicken stock if you're making this soup Fleishigs and not parve.
- 4 cups Canned full-fat coconut milk About 2 cans' worth
- 8 oz. mushroom caps Use any type you want, I happened to have a "fancy mix" on hand - baby bella and shiitake
- 2-3 tbsp. Fresh lime juice
- 2-3 Green onions, sliced thin on a diagonal Ya know, because they look pretty
- 1 handful Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/2 Lime, for garnish and squeezing on top of your soup If you're like me and LOVE acidity, add more!
In a medium pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. I ended up using my Instant Pot since I can sauté right in the container and then switch to soup mode
Add the onion, garlic, Thai chilies (or jalapeno, if using), ginger, lemongrass, mushrooms and red curry paste
Stir for about 5 minutes or until onions and mushrooms are softened
Add the vegetable broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Or, if you're cooking in your Instant Pot, press "soup" mode and cook for 30 minutes
Once soup is ready, ladle into bowls and top with sliced green onion, fresh chopped cilantro and a big squeeze of fresh lime! Feel free to add a drizzle of fish sauce too, for an extra "funk"!