Despite having an extensive list of ingredients, this soup is quite easy to make, and the results are delicious and impressive, bursting with mingled flavors of subtle mushroom and the more exotic lemon grass. My Grampa, though a self-proclaimed meat-and-potatoes man, kept his mind (and his mouth) open and had a second serving when I made this for him.
3 cans low fat coconut milk
1 box (32 oz.) vegetable broth
2 cups shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
about 2 stalks lemon grass, crushed with knife blade and coarsely chopped
2+ teaspoons red curry paste to taste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
kaffir leaves (or, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice + zest from one lime)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
*Just a quick note about some of these ingredients…things like fish sauce & red curry paste will last a long time (though you should really refrigerate the fish sauce…I learned this the hard way, yuck), and are great to have on hand. We are lucky enough to have an Asian market in town, so I don’t have to scour the globe searching for what I need. Kaffir leaves & fresh lemon grass can be frozen in blocks of ice in your ice cube tray, then put into freezer bags for later use. However, fresh is always, always, always best if you can find it!
1) Pour about a cup of vegetable stock in the bottom of the pot, and add the lemon grass stalks, chopped ginger, and kaffir leaves (if you are substituting lime juice, you can add this later). Allow to simmer over a low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
2) Pour in the rest of your vegetable stock, add coconut milk, and stir well. Now add the brown sugar, red curry paste, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Allow broth to simmer about 8 minutes. Pour broth through strainer to remove ginger, lemon grass, and kaffir leaves.
3) Return broth to pot, and throw in your mushrooms. Allow your ingredients to simmer and meld their flavors; when you are ready to sit down to eat, add your shrimp and cook until pink. Serve hot, garnish with sliced scallion.
*You can substitute chicken or tofu for shrimp, or make your own creation with varying combinations of proteins, mushrooms, and spices. The vegetable stock I use is very dark and rich, and so my end result is darker than traditional. Also, I used baby bella mushrooms instead of shiitake this time, as I had some I wanted to use up.