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lemongrass and coconut tofu soupI am showing remarkable strength today, I tell you. It is difficult, but here I am. That’s how much I love you all.

It has been a close call. You almost had to put up with last week’s cauliflower for one more day. You see, the lure of the my back garden has proven almost too great to resist.

As I am tippy tapping away here on the laptop, plants old and new are – just beyond my glass walls – fizzing with photosynthesis and vigour. I can see them, these little leafy soldiers, obediently heeding the sun and Nature’s orders. If I turned down the music I just know I would be able to hear emerging seedlings reaching skyward. Pushing the fragile soil away. Shedding their skins.lemongrass and coconut tofu soupThis morning, on the first of many early hour garden inspections (er, slug removal), I saw tendrils wrapped tentatively round bamboo canes. Yesterday they were strangers in their bed of soil.

It is an irresistible time of year for anyone, but for those lucky enough to have a small patch of garden, one can add blissful and thankful.

And we spent a blissful and thankful weekend covered in dirt. Me, who is a bit of a germ-phone and gets testy if I can’t wash my hands after contact with anything unwholesome (money, trollies, shop door handles – you name it), played in the dirt.

Under a cloudless and pleasantly warm sky, Mr A and I spent countless calories and hours pulling up this, moving that, digging over and forking, and tucking new plants and tender seedlings into their summer beds.

We used to have an allotment many many years ago, but now make due in our back garden with willow-fenced raised beds and pots. In these confines we seem to grow plenty to keep us in green things throughout the year. I get a wee kick out of growing things that I love but that are hard to find in shops. Asian vegetables top the list.

This year, in our hodge podge of containers, we are growing a few different types of kale, chard and Asian greens. Thankfully most of these are delightful cut-and-come-again plants. I may be a bit weird but I really don’t like yanking something from the soil, leaving a black hole where root should be. Or separating head from stem with a sharp knife. Something vaguely French Revolution about that last one. I am most looking forward to the black pak choi – a very sexy sounding plant, I am sure you will agree. But all edible plants are welcome in my kitchen, even some of the ones self-seeding their way around the garden – feverfew, nigella, viola, sorrel, and the odd dandelion.

young black oak choi and curly kale plants + one of my herb boxes

young black pak choi and curly kale plants + one of my herb boxes

Homegrown black pak choi would be perfect in today’s seductively flavoured soup. Lemongrass, lime leaf, ginger, coconut. These flavours speak of sun loungers, gently lapping waves and an ‘adult beverage’ at one’s elbow. Or even your favourite Thai restaurant, but without having to get properly dressed (always the worst bit of going out for me) or be tempted by fried banana fritters. I’ve used bought choi sum today, but hopefully within a month or so I will be making this with my own organically grown vegetables. The chillies too.

I should get outside before the sun hides away for another week. I have some photosynthesising to do myself!

What do you have growing? Do you garden in a big plot, a little postage stamp-sized one or in containers? What is your biggest edible gardening success to date?

PS Don’t miss my resident DJ Miss R’s track of the week after the recipe! It’s pretty fabulous and it’s called Eden. 

lemongrass and coconut tofu soup

Coconut and Lemongrass Tofu Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Don’t even be tempted to add curry paste to this. The fragrant ‘instant’ stock is all you need for this clean, zingy but creamy-good soup.

For more heft, add in some cooked rice noodles (fat snakey udon, or vermicelli, would be my choice).

Don’t like tofu or can’t get non-GMO? Tempeh, shredded cooked chicken, turkey or duck, prawns, or even overnight-soaked cashews, would be fabulous. Or just keep it all vegetable for an ultra-light slurp.

2 large fat lemongrass stalks or 3 ‘supermarket’ ones, outer leaves removed

5 lime leaves OR 1 tsp whizzed-up lime leaves (my choice) OR zest of 1 lime + juice 1 lime

1 thumb of galangal or ginger, peeled and halved

3 Thai chillies (optional)

2 whole star anise

10 peppercorns

1.5 litres (6 ½ cups) hot, light vegetable stock (low-salt if possible)

1 red pepper, diced or sliced

150g (4 cups) chopped choi sum or pak choi

good handful of frozen peas or edamame, defrosted

100g (heaped cup) diced courgette/zucchini

4 spring onions/scallions, sliced

12 shiitake mushrooms (or more), thinly sliced

10 tofu puffs (like you get at the Chinese supermarket in the refrigerator section), quartered OR 100g plain firm tofu, cubed

1 tsp palm sugar or muscovado sugar (it balances the soup)

225ml (1 cup) full-fat coconut milk

1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla) or light soy sauce (more to taste)

Lime wedges and sliced chillies, to serve

1. Using a heavy knife smash the lemongrass and ginger (but not to break it up, just to release the aroma). Pop these in a large saucepan along with the lime leaves (lightly crush or tear before adding), chillies (if using), star anise, peppercorns and hot stock. If you are using lime juice, don’t add this until towards the end of cooking. Bring up to the boil then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.

I pop lime leaves in a coffee grinder, whiz them up and store in the freezer

I pop lime leaves in a coffee grinder, whiz them up and store in the freezer. I didn’t use shrimp paste in this recipe.

2. After 15 minutes, strain the flavoured stock into another pan, or into a large jug and give the pan a wipe, returning to the pan. Discard the solids.

3. Return the stock to the boil then add the remaining ingredients, except the fish sauce/soy sauce and lime juice (if using). When almost boiling once again, turn down the heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce/soy sauce and lime, if using.

4. Ladle into 4 bowls and serve with lime wedges. I didn’t have coriander/cilantro for the photo but this is a great, herbal last second add-in or as a garnish. lemongrass and coconut tofu soup

Miss R’s track of the Week is “Eden” from the May 5 release of the EP “1992” by Ben Khan. All the other tracks equally as lush and funky.


37 thoughts on “Coconut and Lemongrass Tofu Soup

  1. Hi Kellie, I too have spent a lovely weekend in the garden… well in and out depending on how heavy the rain was. This looks amazing for me I will try with Chicken as per your suggested subs. I no longer eat sugar, do you think honey would work instead? Thank you Tabitha.

    1. Thank you Kellie, I think that is the best recommendation and may well be sweet enough for me without adding anything. Our garden is very much WIP and we are just planting at the moment.. but I am very excited by the new herb garden by other half kindly dug out in torrential rain and very clay mud… I will be using and featuring in my blog soon. I have never been particularly green fingered but I think now the idea or growing my own organic and sustainable veggies appeal has finally won me over… now I have to hope it grows!! 🙂

      1. Your hubby sounds like a honey! Enjoy the fruits of your collective labour. Even the smallest of harvests is heavenly and very very satisfying. Small is good. Also, I have clay soil that is b***er to dig so that’s one reason we have raised beds and pots 😛

  2. Of course! Try without any sweetness first then maybe add a little honey if needed for balance. Just to be authentic-ish 😉 My choi sum seemed to add it’s own gentle sweetness to which I added a tiny pinch of coconut palm sugar. I’m glad you were able to enjoy your garden too. Anything edible growing?

  3. This looks so fresh and fragrant, yum! Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere to grow anything right now but I’m moving house in a few months and will have a real garden… think I will start small and grow a herb garden to begin with 🙂

    1. Herbs are a great way to begin. And maybe some mixed lettuce or rocket/arugula in some pots. Pots are great cos you can move them around as needed. Have a great life in your New home 🙂

  4. Well, I know this comment is not very imaginative but my mouth is totally watering at this recipe, I could slurp it up straight from my mac, really lovely.
    As for veggie planting, well as most of ours were eaten by roaming rabbits, pigeons etc last year, I have decided only to plant flowers (for cutting, sorry if that is too ‘guillotine’ for you) but I just love having vases of country flowers in the house so fingers crossed and I will be round with a nice tied bunch for you 🙂

    1. I will very happily receive a back garden bouquet from one of my favourite people 🙂 Hope to see you very soon x

  5. Lovely looking coconut and lemongrass soup! It’s nice to live in a cooler climate where curries like this can be enjoyed throughout the spring! Your garden sounds wonderful. We have some herbs but we don’t garden at the moment….Some day!

    1. Oh the garden is not that grand or great, but it is fairly sunny when the sun is out. Because of growing up in the sunshine I really have a hard time being indoors when the sun is shining, even if it isn’t ever as warm as I remember from childhood. But mostly I laze in the sun rather than garden in it. We are strictly low-maintenance 😉 And btw, herbs make a garden. Think of how many dishes herbs enhance. They punch well above their weight!

      1. Very true. I think many consider herbs as optional garnishes, but I think they are often an important and necessary component to a meal.

      2. Made this soup last night and we loved it. Added brown rice noodles to the bowl and toasted cashews. 🙂 So delicious and I loved how easy it was to make the quick fragrant broth.

  6. I am hoping to harvest lots of veg over the next few months too. We still have the allotment but i am ending it harder & harder to visit so my husband goes and I cook what he brings back! Also have planted some mizuna in the garden and will hope to add in some more lovely greens bit we are still doing well with the rainbow chard. I would never tire of a soup with all of these wonderful aromatic flavours, so many of my favourites in one bowl 🙂

    1. Now, you are a gardener. I feel very amateurish compared to you and Louisa Foti! But it is good to get the husband to do the grunt work and you get the glory of a beautiful dish on the table. You have that the right way around 😉 I am not growing mizuna yet, but you have reminded me that I must quickly sow some rows as they are not only tasty but pretty too. Your spring vegetable broth sounds amazing, btw. Love rainbow chard. I had a few that over-wintered very very well too.

  7. I don’t do growing things, I’ve tried, but every time I seem to kill them, so I leave it to other people now! Shame because I love seeing and hearing about what other people are growing 🙁 our garden has always been more about footballs and dogs which don’t mix well with plants!!! X

    1. I have been there with the brown thumb thing. However once your family gets a bit older you may find that with a different focus latent gardening skills come to the fore. Until then, shop away! And enjoy the boys (and their footballs) while they are young and – crucially – impressionable 🙂

      1. Absolutely, that is my plan 🙂 thank you xx

  8. I love the flavours you have in this soup and clever you for growing more unusual vegetables. This is our first year of home grown and it is looking good so far but of course it is early days! next year I shall seek out some of the asian leafy veg too. I will keep a look out for the puffy tofu – I guess it has been fried to make it crispy so one could do same with firm tofu?

    1. yes, to frying or baking the tofu (the latter doesn’t puff as pleasingly but it does air up a bit!). Or even just putting it in as silky cubes. I was splurging at the Chinese supermarket and couldn’t resist the puffs. Nornally I do resist, but the puffs are super nice in this, plus it freezes very well 😉 Best wishes with your new garden (in your new home!). Your wee ones I’m sure are soaking up the knowledge and experience of growing their own (can’t start too soon with them). Good family fun and a great way to tire all concerned out for bed! even if it is just napping in the fresh air.

  9. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things says:

    Kellie, this is absolutely delicious combination of flavours! Thank you for the peek at your garden. The weather is turning cooler here now, so we have a frost blanket over the kitchen garden for the moment until I can get out on a warmish day and plant my garlic and bring in the chillies!

    1. Some of us are still experiencing frost – lol. And nigh on May too. I wish I had planted some purple garlic as I really fancy smoking some home grown garlic rather than buying it. And I think one needs wet garlic for that hoot. And you do know I mean smoking in a smoker not wrapping it in a rizla! Wrap up warm, Miss Liz x

  10. Sounds delicious, and funnily enough we had a Thai soup today for lunch, yum yum! I put the tomato plants into the greenhouse this weekend, but really must get on with planting out some goodies in the garden. I picked a lovely bunch of purple sprouting broccoli on Sunday, and it tasted wonderful and juicy….I love choosing what to grow at this time of year….so many possibilities of dishes yet to come 🙂

    1. Seonaid, you have the loveliest garden of anyone I know, and in such a beautiful setting. You have magical fingers when it comes to plant nurturing. Those cucumbers and yellow squashes you kindly gave me last summer are firmly in my memory of very good things. And how I wish I had your beautiful and useful Victorian (a real one, folks. Not from B&Q) greenhouse. You must do a post from your garden soon!

  11. I never used lime leaves before.. Should give it it try! Looks amazing!

    1. You will love them. I add them into rice if it is to accompany anything vaguely Asian. And into smoothies too! Just buy a little bag of fresh leaves, whiz them up and pop them into a little jar to keep in the freezer. This is a super easy way to add limey freshness,

  12. Oh, that garden sounds so lovely! Just add that to the list of reasons I’d like to move in with you 😉 We usually plant a few small containers on our little balcony. Mostly herbs, but also tomatoes and strawberries. I don’t think we’ve got space for much else, those basically take over the balcony in the summer and there’s hardly space to sit out there with a glass of rosé. And that soup! Looks fabulous, I can practically smell it from here!

    1. I’ve not had much luck with tomatoes. I would really need a greenhouse to get the requisite constant heat. In fact last year my neighbour played surrogate mother to a tomato plant that I had given up on. She put it in her greenhouse and gave me the tomatoes as they came! I agree that you must have space for a glass of rose’ (or Champagne!). Push those plants out of the way! Btw, I’ve seen some very clever and beautiful hanging containers for veg and herbs. Maybe you could increase your crop by going vertical? I bet in Stockholm you have some very design-led gardening bits and bobs.

      1. We have actually considered going vertical, but the problem is that the wall upon which that would be possible (and it gets great sun) is also where the husband stores his bike. Life is all about compromises, no?

      2. Hang containers from the bike handles?? But you are right. Compromises. I hope he does the same. I’m sure he does 😉

  13. Looks delicious

  14. narf77 says:

    This looks a lot like laksa, the key to an Aussies heart ;). Gorgeous stuff. We Aussies know “good tucker” when we see it, especially our wonderful neighbours Asian cuisines. I will check out Miss R’s pick of the week after Stevie-boy gets up. 5am might be well into my daily journey for me but Stevie-boy might get a bit grumpy if I was to play it now ;). Lovely gardening shots 🙂

    1. Thanks Fran. I do have a laksa recipe on the blog somewhere and it is a HUGE favourite with us, but the recipe is more involved than this simple one. Enjoy the song – but don’t read all the comments scrolling underneath via sound cloud! A lot of ‘language’ – those youngsters! I will post more garden shots once I have something to shoot! Thanks for the visit from Taz

      1. narf77 says:

        I am immune to “language” now (as can be attested to by my abominable use of the vernacular 😉 ) as I worked for quite a few years as a dough prep and in a short order cafe and you haven’t heard ANYTHING till you have heard cooks swear. I learned words that would make my long dead grandmother come back from the dead, wooden spoon in hand and give them all a severe going over ;). I love simple soups. I adore a simple miso soup whenever I have a cold and tend to sip miso soup all day. There is something about aromatic broth that makes everything better and soothes mind, body and soul all in one 🙂

  15. It takes about an hour, but making your own tofu is so rewarding, and after practicing it a handful of times, you can make tofu that is so much better than anything you can buy. I make it at least once a week. It’s a very relaxing practice.

  16. This recipe looks divine, yet another one I want to cook from your blog. Love all your photographs as well btw. Best Torie

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