coconut-corn soup with red curry

As the weather shifts from hot to cool, soups appear on our table frequently.  One of my favorite flavor combinations in a soup is corn and coconut milk with a little red curry paste and as the temperatures begin to drop, it is one of the first soups I will make.  The soup is not as thick as a traditional cream soup but it is every bit as filling and on occasion, I add a few shrimp when I serve it for dinner but usually, I prepare it with just vegetables.  To get the true flavor of corn in this soup, use 3-4 ears of corn when they are in season.  Prepare them by slicing off the kernels and breaking the cobs in two.  Simmer the cobs in the soup for 15-20 minutes and then remove them.  Although corn is a real star in late summer, the convenience of frozen products keep it around all year and this recipe can be made with frozen corn kernels which is what I did for this recipe.

Use this recipe as a guideline; add fish, seafood or poultry pieces if you like, keep it vegan if not.  The vegetables you choose are up to you.  For this batch, I used corn, onions, carrots, celery and red peppers but you could easily add mushrooms or chunks of hard squash.  To make it a little extra filling, serve it with rice.

coconut-corn soup with red curry
serves 4
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
1-2 ribs celery, sliced thin on the bias
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 (12 oz) bag of frozen corn, thawed
2 cans light coconut milk
3 cups vegetable broth
3 large sprigs of basil
1 (2-3″) stalk of lemon grass
2-3 slices of fresh ginger
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
garnish-additional fresh basil, cilantro, slices of jalapenos, bean sprouts if desired
2 cups cooked rice
In a deep, heavy bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and red bell peppers and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and the curry paste and saute for another minute.  Pour in the corn, coconut milk, broth, 2 of the basil sprigs the lemon grass and ginger slices and adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers gently for 15 minutes or so.  Remove the basil sprigs, lemon grass and ginger slices and add the fish sauce if desired.
To serve, arrange the garnishes on a large platter for all to share.  Divide the soup into large bowls and serve the rice in small dishes on the side, allow everyone to garnish their bowls as they desire.
***If you have fresh corn on the cob, omit the frozen corn and add the fresh shucked corn and the cobs in its place.  Allow the soup to gently simmer for at least 15 minutes to extract the flavor from the cobs.  Before serving, remove the cobs.
***If you chose to add fish, seafood or poultry, add it when the soup is at the simmer and stir to prevent it from sticking to the pot.  Allow the soup to simmer long enough to ensure that the protein is properly cooked.

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