Thai style lentil soup


I made this soup out of  the normal ‘base’ vegetables and what I had available. Hence no fresh coriander, which I would have added at the end, if I had had some. This quantity will feed 2-3 people:

  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced)
  • 1 celery stick (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced/roughly chopped)
  • 1 large chilli (green or red: cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 2 pieces of dried lemongrass (chopped)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (crumbled)
  • 2 generous teaspoons of Thai curry paste (green or red)
  • 50g creamed coconut (the hard block sort, crumbled)
  • 200g good quality tinned of chopped tomatoes (ie 1/2 a tin)
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or stock cube equivalent)
  • 120g red split lentils (washed under the cold tap in a sieve)
  • 1 bundle of fine rice noodles (c. 60g)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Add the curry paste, creamed coconut (crumble in), chopped tomatoes, water, stock powder and the lentils. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for about thirty minutes.

Blend the soup – in a liquidiser, food processor, or use a hand blender (my preference because it is so much easier to clean than a liquidiser or food processor) in the saucepan.

Break up the noodles and stir into the soup. Heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and grated zest. At this point the soup is very thick. You can add some cold water which will reduce the overall temperature so that it can be eaten immediately (if you are freezing it, the thick soup saves space).

Fusion risotto


This is what happens when you don’t label the contents of your freezer.

I found a small pot of what I thought was semi-skimmed milk. Started defrosting it, and decided to sniff it – it was coconut milk – no good for the macaroni cheese I’d been thinking of making!

Anyway, I decided to make a ‘Thai’ risotto. I also had some leftover baby sweet corn and sugar-snap peas. I was the only one at home, so this recipe is for 1:

  • Oil
  • 1 stem lemongrass (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1 small clove of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (crushed)
  • 2 tsp Nam Pla
  • 75g brown long grain rice
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 2 tsp green Thai curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp vegi stock powder
  • Hot water (for topping-up)
  • 4 baby sweetcorn (halved lengthways and cut into 3cm pieces)
  • 8 sugar-snap peas
  • A few coriander leaves

Heat a little oil in a saucepan (one with a thick base). Add the lemongrass, onion, garlic and chilli, and gently cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, the curry paste and the stock powder. Stir well and cook for 20 minutes (or until the rice is nearly cooked). Stir fairly frequently and top-up with hot water as necessary.

Add the baby sweetcorn and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Then add the sugar-snap peas and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Serve – sprinkled with torn coriander leaves.

Duck Soup


Not only a Marx Brothers’ film but also a hastily put together supper which was consumed the other evening.

There was not a great deal to distinguish this soup from Pork belly noodle soup, except that the meat content was a duck leg rather than pork belly. When I made the Cassoulet at the weekend, I had to defrost two duck legs (one for the cassoulet and one left over). So I boned both legs, and used the bones together with an onion, a carrot, a stick of celery and some herbs to make stock for this soup.

I also marinated the spare boned duck leg (overnight) in a mixture of soy sauce, shaoxing rice wine, sesame seed oil and some ground Szechuan pepper. The following morning, I roasted it at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 35 minutes. then allowed it to cool.

Apart from the duck (and the duck stock) the recipe was just the same as before, except that shortly before I was about to serve the soup, I reheated the duck leg in the microwave, then sliced it, and placed the slices on top of the soup.

Salmon and butternut squash noodle soup


This soup (for 2) is made in exactly the same way as the ‘soup’ part of pork belly noodle soup, but the main ingredients are different. When I cooked this last night, I added half a small red onion (chopped), to the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass mix at the beginning of the recipe (and dispensed with the spring onions at the end), but this makes little difference to the finished product.

Butternut1To roast the butternut squash, cut it in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds (you needn’t throw them away – here’s a recipe for Toasted Butternut Squash Seeds (beware it’s an American recipe and the oven setting is in Fahrenheit: 300F is about 150C (Gas Mark 2))). Place the two halves (skin down) in a roasting tin and roast for about 45 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4-5). You could cook the squash from its raw state when simmering the spices, curry paste, coconut cream, nam pla and stock, but I intend to make a roasted butternut squash and red pepper risotto later in the week, and thought I might as well roast the whole squash.

For the soup, follow the pork belly noodle soup recipe as far as cooking the noodles, but use fish stock rather than chicken stock. The other ingredients are:

  • 7 baby sweetcorn (halved and sliced into 2cm lengths)
  • half a small red pepper (sliced)
  • 1/3 large roasted butternut squash (cut into approx 2cm cubes)
  • 2 small fresh (or frozen) salmon portions (skinned and cut into 2cm squares)
  • 5 spring onions (sliced)
  • 1 large mushroom (sliced)
  • 2 large (or 4 small) pak choi
  • juice of half a lime
  • chopped fresh coriander

Add the baby sweetcorn to the simmering soup, returning to the boil before simmering for 2 minutes. Then do the same with the red pepper, squash, salmon and the spring onions. After simmering these for 2 minutes add the mushroom slices and the pak choi, and simmer for another 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. The soup is now ready to serve

In two large bowls, place equal quantities of noodles and soup, and top with chopped coriander. If there is insufficient liquid add some hot water. Eat!

I have also made a vegetarian version of this soup. I swapped the salmon for tofu, and used vegi-stock instead of fish stock.

Pork belly noodle soup


A very filling soup. The pork would be sufficient for 4 people, but I decided to save half the cooked pork for Nasi Goreng later in the week.

For two people:

For the pork:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp chinese five spice powder
  • 5 strips of pork belly (this is the number you get in a pack at my supermarket)

To make the marinade, mix the soy sauce, the vinegar, the oil and the five spice powder together in a flat bottomed dish. Ensure that the pork belly strips are coated in the marinade. Cover the dish and allow to stand for at least 2 hours (if it’s a hot day leave this in the fridge). Then roast in the oven at 190C-200C (Gas Mark 5 or 6). It should take about 45 mins, but take a look after 25 minutes and turn the meat over, sprinkling with the remaining marinade.

The meat will be cooked when it is soft and easily pulled apart.

For the rest of the soup:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • a piece of fresh ginger, about 2cms square (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 small hot chilli (chopped – include the seeds for extra heat)
  • 1 stick of lemongrass (finely sliced)
  • 1 heaped tbsp green Thai curry paste (I used approximately 40g of this product – other pastes may differ in strength)
  • a splash of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 1 small tin coconut cream
  • chicken stock made with 600mls water and 1/2 chicken stock cube
  • 3 medium noddle nests (this is about 180 grams of dry noodles, fewer if you’re not that hungry)
  • 10 baby sweetcorn (halved and sliced into 2cm lengths)
  • 25 green beans, topped and tailed, and sliced into 3cm lengths)
  • 5 spring onions (sliced)
  • 1 large mushroom (sliced)
  • a handful of raw spinach
  • juice of half a lime
  • chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass. Stir and gently cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, then add the Nam Pla, the coconut cream and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Cook the noodles as indicated on the packet. When cooked drain and keep warm. Then slice half the pork (and keep warm). allow the rest of the meat cool rapidly and put in a container in the fridge as soon as possible.

Add the baby sweetcorn to the simmering soup, returning to the boil before simmering for 2 minutes. Then do the same with the green beans and the spring onions. After simmering these for 2 minutes add the mushroom slices and the spinach and simmer for another 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. The soup is now ready to serve

In two large bowls, place equal quantities of noodles and soup, top with pork and chopped coriander. if there is insufficient liquid add some hot water. Eat!