One of my favourite food shows is “Come Dine With Me”. I will sit transfixed for hours watching people cook up a storm for 4 complete strangers. So recently, four of my foodie friends and I decided to host our own “Come Dine With Me” series of dinner parties. What a hoot! We tried to stick to the TV series’ format as much as we could, without all the drama, and of course we weren’t strangers to each other. Each person hosted one dinner party, serving 4 courses. We then voted on whose dinner was the best, (through a neutral friend) and the winner received a gift certificate to a swanky spa here in Vancouver. Honestly, it was so much fun. The cooks each had a few intense of days of stress, as they planned and cooked and hosted, but the rest was all gravy (so to speak)! Let me tell you, my friends can cook! We experienced some brilliant menus and some beautiful wines paired with the meals. The recipe I am offering you today was the second course for the dinner I hosted. I tweaked a recipe from a very fine cookbook: The Wine Lover’s Cookbook, by Sid Goldstein. This is one of my favourite coconut soups. The coconut and peanut butter round out the spiciness of the ginger. The lime juice and fish sauce deliver that subtle Asian aroma I have become so fond of. Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, no, I did not win the competition; but I know my meal was enjoyed by all of the guests: after all, that was all that really mattered! Perhaps as time permits, I will blog about the rest of my menu and some of the other fine recipes that were served up during our competition! I hope you enjoy this one for the time being!
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and chopped
4 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon Vietnamese chili garlic paste
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ tablespoons Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons seasoned rice-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
fresh cilantro and toasted sesame seeds to garnish
Place oil in a large stockpot and heat on medium high. Add onions and celery and sauté until onions are soft. Add garlic, ginger, and carrots and sauté for 5 more minutes until the carrots begin to soften.
Add stock, chili paste, coriander, turmeric, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, peanut butter, brown sugar, sesame oil, and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer lightly for 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Using a hand blender, purée the soup until it is smooth. Ladle into soup bowls and top with chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.