Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coconut Curry Soup
subtitled: i've got so many goddamn greens

So! There are a few things that went into the motivation to whip this soup up: a deep deep love of coconut milk (ordered by the case), the incessant urge to completely improvise recipes, and, perhaps most importantly, A LOT OF FREAKING GREENS.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a CSA, allow me to explain. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture," and if you are currently living in the hudson valley, you are really surrounded by it. You can find a list of local farms that offer CSAs here. There are 6 in New Paltz alone, which is where I happen to thrive. When you sign up for a CSA, you pay a certain predetermined amount to the farm (often on a sliding scale) and then you get a share of the harvest. Every farm is different, but the way it works at Brook Farm, where my housemates and I have a share, we get a pick up every single week, which is usually an over-abundance of amazing local and organic veggies to keep us in good shape. Work-exchange is often also a part of the fee for a share, so helping to harvest on pick-up days and general labor is also a part of the agreement sometimes. Being a CSA member means that you are close to your food source. It means that your relationship to your food is that much more substantial, and it cuts down majorly on your impact on the earth, as you won't be relying on purchasing produce that has been trucked or flown in from all over the country and even all over the world!

Being a part of a CSA also teaches you to eat seasonally. You get to understand when certain things grow and when they don't, so you are more in tune with the growing season. I can't really say enough good things about CSAs, so please look into them more if you are interested. Here are some more reasons to check em out. There is even a new CSA in the area that gathers vegetables all year-round from local farms to freeze and distribute throughout the winter so you can eat local produce even when it is snowing out! is a great resource for all of this.

So, this being said, our CSA pick-ups lately have been filled with greens. Not only has the CSA pick-up been this way, but my housemate works at a local farm, and we have a garden, so we have generally just been overloaded. This soup recipe is a great way to "take care of" a bunch of them. (My apologies to the greens: I do not mean to slander you in any way, or suggest that you need "taking care of." You are vibrant. You are lovely. You make my life complete.)

What you need:
-6 cups vegetable broth
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-2 1/4 teaspoon green curry paste
-2 1/4 teaspoon red miso paste
-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-juice of 1 lime
-GREENS GREENS GREENS! (this means whatever you have. i used a bunch of tat soi, bok choy, and chinese cabbage.)
-basil, dill, cilantro (i can't measure these things, so put as much as you want in.)
-mushrooms (4 0z or so. i used tiny brown beech mushrooms, but i think any would do real well.)
-1 can of coconut milk
-a few dashes of cumin
-broccoli (however much you want)
-asparagas (however much you want)
-garlic scapes
-1-3 teaspoons of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
-a few shakes of crushed red peppers

I'll say it. I'm really bad at measuring things when I cook. I hate to do it, it takes the fun out of things, dirties unnecessary little implements, etc etc. But! I did think I would be trying to use this recipe for the blog if it turned out right, so I took note of measurements as I went. But, please please please feel free to add and subtract things wherever. If you don't want asparagas, throw it against the wall yelling "to the moon with you!" triumphantly. Or, rather, bring it to me. I love asparagas. But, just put in what you want. Cooking is fun, I swear.

So, start to simmer the broth. You can use bullion cubes or pre-boxed broth or your own homemade broth. This is where things get dicey (pun intended?). Throw everything in in whatever order you want, really. But save the lime for last. Really. I can't really remember what I did in what order, so just feel it out. Chop everything up and let it hang out in the pot.

Garlic scapes. You might be unfamiliar with them, but you shouldn't! They are the cutest and way versatile and delicious. Read of one's discovery of them here. I chop them up and use them as i would garlic.

garlic scapes that Cheryl and I tended to in Sedro Woolley, Washington.

Mushrooms. The ones I got and used came together in a little chunk. To free them, i chopped off the base and separated them, and I think they were really perfect for this soup.

As far as everything else goes, just improvise. Throw caution to the wind and add in some ginger. Your soup should look like this.

Your stomach should feel pretty good, too.