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.

a touch of fall; coconut sugar cookies

sugar cookies are something that never go out of season.  for a baker, they are the equivalent of a blank canvas just waiting to be transformed into tasty works of art.  the dough is also flexible enough that the ingredients can be manipulated with substitutions and it will still be easy to roll out.

for this batch i replaced the butter with coconut oil and the result was a crispy, flaky cookie with a rich coconut flavor.  since it is now fall, i thought a few swirls of fall colors in the dough and a leaf cutter would be a nice way to try out my new kitchen and oven.  by using toothpicks, it is easy to add little dabs of color to the dough.  do this carefully, as you can see, the red i used overpowered the orange and yellow and made the dough look a bit cherry red instead of marbleized fall colors.

marbleized coconut sugar cookies
makes about 24 large cookies
7 ounces coconut oil, at room temp and solid
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
paste food colors and tooth picks
leaf cutter
place the coconut oil into a mixing bowl with the sugar, vanilla and salt.  with the mixer on medium-low, combine the ingredients completely but take care not to mix too long.  coconut oil responds to friction quickly and will melt with a lot of mixing.  add the egg and mix to combine.  add the flour and mix the dough until it is combined.  
scrape the dough out onto a clean tray or large platter to prevent the colors from staining your counter top or cutting board.  to color the dough, dip the toothpicks into the food color and dab it onto the dough.  the more you add, the more the colors will mix and homogenize so do not try to add a lot.  wearing gloves if you do not want to stain your hands, gently knead the dough to distribute the colors.  add more color if you like, and knead it in.  do not knead it excessively or the colors will blend to form a single tint.  place the dough on the tray in the fridge to set for about 10-15 minutes to make rolling it out easier.  preheat the oven to 350.  line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.  
to roll the dough, refer to this previous post which illustrates the use of dowels.  roll the dough, cut out the leaves and transfer them to the prepared trays.  bake the cookies for about 14-16 minutes.  the cookies should be lightly browned around the edges.  allow the cookies to cool completely, store air tight.