Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup – An Aromatic Revelation!

Just the other day, was my lucky day as I was being treated to a delicious Indian feast made by my hubby, Graeme. I knew that he went to a special Indian grocery store and was grinding up his own garam masala spices, but I did not know that he was going to make one of his best soups ever! When he started to heat up the spices for the soup, I was amazed at the aroma in our house – seriously good and the best I ever smelt. I felt like I have been transported somewhere in the world where I never have been…perhaps it was India. This recipe Graeme followed is one of Jamie Olivers. And now after the fact, I read the recipe in the book and Jamie mentioned in the introduction that the spices being used have amazing smells once you heat them up. Jamie was not joking at all.

The Verdict of Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup?

So how did the soup smell? OMG, so buttery and a very unique earthy smell that makes your tastebuds salivate on the spot. Never smelt aroma like it nor do I think I can ever guess what are the spices floating around in our abode. And then when my mouth had the liberty of the soup to swirl around, I experienced a very wonderful exotic, rich, earthy, and elegant dish. The white fish and rice with the spices also gave it a very delicate property as well. It seems to have many dimensions. One can also say that it is an Indian Risotto without the labour of all of the stirring.  The cod goes so well. and oh so buttery. I cannot stop saying buttery and there is no butter in this dish! My hips are thanking me on that part. Love the random curry leaves. And now we have this wonderful masala ground up for future dishes. By the time I reached my third spoonful of goodness, I told my husband that it was his best ever soup even though he has made some very scrumptious soups in the past.

The only thing I would change to this soup, is to put less rice or more water. The original recipe measurement for rice says “2 handfuls” and it can be quite relative to the person making the soup. When my husband made it, it was a tad too thick. Perhaps Jamie has smaller hands? :)

I sure hope Graeme makes this soup again in the future. This soup was a perfect accompaniment to the Onion Tomato Chutney and Cucumber Raita (made with cashew cream) with Papadums!

Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
  • a handful of fresh curry leaves, picked off stalks
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (or we ground up our own from:
    coriander, cumin, fennel, clove,clove leaf, nay leaves, black pepper, star anise, mace, black cardamon, cinnamon)
  • 1.5 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced.
  • 2 large thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of basmati rice
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1lb fish, skinned cod, filtered and cut into 2-3 inch chunks
  • 2 14oz cans of coconut milk
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 2 limes
  • a handful of fresh cilantro roughly chopped, keep some to garnish

Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup Instructions:

  • Heat oil up in a big pan, then add the mustard seeds, curry leafs, cumin seeds, garam masala, chili powder and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes and you’ll get the most amazing smells filling the room from all of these spices.
  • Then add the chillies, ginger, garlic and onions. Continue cooking slowly until the garlic and onions are soft.
  • The add the rice and water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • Add your fish and the coconut milk with a pitch of salt. Put the lid on the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes, then stir well to break up the pieces of fish.
  • Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, then just before you serve it squeeze in the lime juice and stir in half the cilantro.
  • Ladle into warmed bowls, sprinkle a tad more of cilantro on top. Enjoy!

Source for Original Recipe:  Jamie’s Dinners, The Essential Family Cookbook. Jamie Oliver, Recipe: Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup, Page 153

What Was Changed From Original Recipe: Nothing really, my husband follows recipes pretty bang on. He went the extra mile and ground up his own garam masala

Soup Mistress Rating For Southern Indian Rice and Seafood Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5) 
Presentation: (3.75/5 )
Taste: (5/5) 

Not many soups will ever get a 5/5 for taste, but this one deserves it!

Vegetarian or Pescatarian Curry Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

 Above is a Pescatarian version with grilled shrimp and eggplant that I made a month later – what a mighty fine addition indeed! Below is the vegetarian version:

So what is Laksa? Well, let me share with you on Wikipedia says:

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine, which is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. Laksa consists of rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, prawn or fish, served in spicy soup; either based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk, or based on sour asam (tamarind or gelugur). It can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.

The Verdict of Vegetarian Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles:

Over a year ago, I was blessed with visiting Singapore, Malaysia for 5 weeks and had a chance to try a few Laksa soups to appreciate it from where it originated. All versions I tried had either chicken or seafood in it when I was there. I did not see any vegetarian versions. For my version below, I decided to make a vegetarian Laksa (with egg) and I really LOVED the result, taste and healthiness.

I am sold on this very authentic soup base recipe. If I closed my eyes and smelt the aroma of the soup I made, I truly felt like I was back in Asia!!

I had great fun making my version of the soup for two reasons:

  1. I had an opportunity to use my fancy spiralizr to replace rice noodles with healthy veggie zuchinni noodles. They worked very well.
  2. I attempted to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg to put in the soup and will be trying it in the future with a ramen version I am sure. It added a velvety goodness to the soup!

Laksa Paste Ingredients:

  • 4 red chilies (If you are using dried ones, you need to presoak them)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped
  • 3 cm piece galangal, peeled, chopped
  • 5 cashew nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil

Laksa Paste Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a food Processor. Process until finely chopped. Add oil. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Laksa Soup Ingredients:

  •  Laksa paste (above)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 6 cups veggie stock
  • 2½ tsp brown or raw sugar
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1.5 cup tofu, cubed small to medium sized
  • 2½ cups bean sprouts
  • 3 cups fresh zucchini noodles, spiralized from whole zucchini
  • 1/2 pund shrimp (optional/added)
  • 1 cup diced eggplant (optional/added)

Garnish/Fixings Ingredients:

  • 2 soft boiled eggs (7 minute egg: boil water, softly immerse 2 cold eggs in boiling water, simmer water for exactly 7 minutes, immerse eggs in cold ice water bath, peel and slice the egg just right before placed in the bowls for serving)
  • Fried shallots (in peanut oil)
  • Fresh Thai Basil
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Lime wedges in quarters

Laksa Soup Instructions:

  • Optional: grill shrimp until almost cooked pink/white. Put aside on plate.
  • Heat peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add Laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add stock and sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.
  • Add carrots, cabbage, and eggplant return to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Separately, in a frying pan, sauté the zucchini noodles for 1-2 minutes, making sure not to make them to soft and mushy. Divide these noodles among bowls for serving.
  • Add coconut milk, tofu and beansprouts. Stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until beansprouts are wilted and tofu are heated through.
  • Ladle Laksa soup among bowls. Drop in a few grilled shrimps (optional), scatter over fried shallots, basil leaves, Sriricha sauce, and lime wedges.

Original Soup Recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/malay-curry-laksa-laksa-lemak

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Added cabbage
  • Added carrots
  • Added soft boiled eggs
  • Omitted prawns, chicken and fish balls
  • Replaced chicken stock with vegetarian stock
  • Replaced thin rice noodles with zucchini noodles
  • Replaced tofu puffs with sprouted organic tofu
  • Replaced mint with basil for garnish

Soup Mistress Rating For Vegetarian Laksa With Spiralized Zucchini Noodles:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5 )
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Karmavore Serving Up Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup – A Soup Review

Karmavore Specialty Shop

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Karmavore Vegan Specialty Shop serving up Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup.

I have been making an effort to check out new places in New Westminster since I moved here less than a year ago. This past weekend, I decided to check out Karmavore, a Vegan specialty store on Columbia Street. I heard that it had a little vegan cafe in the basement and I wanted to try one of their vegan soups.

I was impressed when I walked downstairs towards the deli case and saw some very pretty looking vegan desserts. I was also very curious of how their raw pizza may taste like, but I quickly reminded myself that my mission was to try their soup. BTW I heard that their Black Forest Cake made by Sprout is a sure winner (I will have to come back and get it when my mom is visiting next month because Black Forest Cake is her favorite dessert).

I soon found out that Karmavore Deli did have a soup.  But, I was a tad disappointed that they did not have their own house made soup and they were serving up Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup instead. I convinced myself that shouldn’t be such a home-made soup snob and just try it already.

Did you know that Happy Planet was founded by Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s current Mayor? In 1994, he and Randal Ius pressed organic carrots from Gregor’s farm into bottles.

The Verdict of Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup? The soup was very tasty yet light (a good thing to me) and on the spicy side (it had some yummy Thai chile). The amount of Thai chile was fine for me, but it may be too much heat for some people. There was some nice bits of tomato and all the ingredients tasted quite fresh – it was not a mushy premade soup surprisingly. I was also impressed that this soup was gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan with no preservatives. I never paid attention to this line of soups when I saw them at the grocery store. The best thing I loved about the soup was that it did not use noodles nor rice and had a lot of baby corns and bamboo shoots. I think the bamboo shoots were the superstar ingredient and can be a great substitute for noodles or rice in many Thai Coconut Soup recipes. I’ve been meaning to try a Thai Coconut Soup recipe that my brothers girlfriend shared with me –  I think I may use bamboo shoots in it as a recipe adjustment as well!

If I was to try recreate Happy Planets Thai Coconut Soup at home, I would try to slim down the sodium a tad. When I look at the nutrition facts it is saying that there is 550mg of sodium per 250ml – I think it is a little high. I would not add any sea salt and rinse the baby corns in running water (if they are canned, they may have added salt or sodium).

Happy Planets Thai Coconut Soup Ingredients: Water, coconut milk (coconut milk, water, guar gum), baby corn, onions, bamboo shoots, tomatoes, carrots, red curry paste, red peppers, green peppers, sunflower oil, galangal, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, sea salt, lemongrass, evaporated cane juice, kaffir lime leaves.

Soup Mistress Rating for Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5)