It’s raining pretty hard right now while I’m sitting here writing this, and just looking outside is giving me chills. So as I make myself another cup of tea and look at the pictures of this soup, I imagine it like a big warm blanket, warming my head to my toes, eliminating the word ‘cold’ from body’s vocabulary (even if only temporarily). At this time of year when people are often doing cleanses to start their year off right, I try not to think about resolutions based on the calendar year and just do right by my body with a hot bowl of food accompanied by something starchy (usually in the form of bread or some cooked grains).
The new year brings people to not only make goals for the year ahead, but reflect on the year previous. Currently the internet is full of thank-god-2016-is-over type stuff. And on the one hand, I can totally agree: a lot of celebrities and influential musicians passed, an overtly sexist and racist man convinced people that he could successfully hold the most powerful position in the United States, there has been horrific violence in the news constantly, and an exorbitant number of people forced to flee their homes and live as refugees.
In light of all this, a lot of good things actually happened last year as well. (Check out this article in the Telegraph and scroll down.) Bad things are unavoidable in life, and sometimes it’s hard to see the light in so much dark. Though it may not always be grand, there is always good to be found. I thought back over the year to just a handful of good things that happened in my life: my older brother got married, which means I finally have a sister. My cousin’s oldest son is now cancer free after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. I celebrated 3 years with my partner. My best pals had a sweet little baby. I conquered my fear of traveling alone. Not to mention all the small day-to-day things that I tend to take for granted. I guess what I’m saying is don’t feel down about the past, but look forward with the hope that we all have the strength to accept the good and the bad things as they come.
spicy coconut and pineapple soup (vegan, gluten free)
2/3 cup uncooked short grain brown rice + 1 cup water/veg stock
2 cups sliced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 curry leaves, torn
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 stalk lemongrass, about 5 inches, bashed with the back of a knife
2 teaspoons sugar
good pinch of salt
4 cups veg stock
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons lime juice
150 g soft tofu (not silken), 1/2 inch cubes
100 g enoki mushrooms, pulled apart into strands
1 cup pineapple, 1/2 inch cubes
Start with the rice: bring 1 cup of water or veg stock to a boil in a small pot. Rinse the rice in a small sieve, then add to the pot with a good pinch of salt. Low the heat to medium low, cover and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes. Once the rice is al dente, remove from the heat still covered, then fluff with a fork after 5 minutes or so.
For the soup: add a splash of oil to a pot over medium low heat along with the sliced onion. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes until softened slightly, but don’t allow it to brown. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, tamarind, sambal, red curry paste, lemongrass, sugar, and salt, stirring to coat, then add the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lemon grass, then add the coconut milk, lime juice, tofu, mushrooms, and pineapple and cook for 5 minutes over a simmer. Divide the rice between two bowls and pour half the soup into each, then top with cilantro and more sambal.
Feel free to use some noodles in place of the rice; I batch cooked a bunch of rice so it’s what I had on hand when I made the soup.
I realize that ‘spicy’ is subjective and if we’re being honest here, I’m a total wimp. So if you like heat, add more to the base of the soup and garnish with it too.