Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley stalks, black peppercorns, thyme,
tarragon, fennel bulbs, squash, olive oil, sesame oil, sea salt flakes, coconut milk, lime leaves, ginger, corn on cob, palm or soft brown sugar, limes and Nam pla, (fish sauce)….For a vegetarian version leave out the fish sauce…….
Recently I was given a few different, gorgeous squash by Richard Bartlett ( a expert gardener in his own right growing beautiful and unusual salad leaves, amongst many things.) who is helping chef Andrew Hill establish a kitchen garden to grow as much of their produce as they can for the kitchen of his pub, The Half Moon, Cuxham, nr Watlington, Oxfordshire.( thehalf-moon.com)
I had friends round and wanted to cook up something vegetarian…….Sweetcorn, Squash and Coconut Soup……..
……..I made a stock first……
The things you need……carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley stalks, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, fresh tarragon, fennel bulbs, squash, olive oil, sesame oil, sea salt flakes, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, corn on cob, palm or soft brown sugar, fresh limes and Nam pla, (fish sauce)
This is the stock I was making on the day. If I’d thought about it before I would have flavoured this stock with asian flavours like ginger, lemon grass, coriander stalks, spring onion and the lime leaves could go in here too. This one below is more of a classically flavoured stock.
2 bulbs garlic, just cut across the whole bulb
12 leaves bay
lots of parsley stalks
sprinkling of black peppercorns
few sprigs thyme
few sprigs tarragon
trimmings from fennel bulbs
Cover well with water and simmer gently for 1-2 hours. I threw in a few fennel trimmings at the very end. Then strain. I usually strain in a colander first and then a sieve.
For the soup
I cut the squash in half and removed any large seeds, I drizzled all with a little olive oil and a teaspoon or two of sesame oil, salt and pepper and covered with foil and cooked for an hour or two or until all was really tender. Then we scooped out the flesh from those with a tough skin with soup spoons.
Strain the stock and add 3 cans of coconut milk, about 10 lime leaves, and a large piece of ginger crushed by bashing with the end of a rolling pin.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and return to the pan. Cut the corn kernels off of 8 cobs and add the kernels to the pan. Add the scooped out squash, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the corn is tender.
Now as this is simmering, it’s time for some more seasoning and it’s all about getting a good balance of sweet and sour. So a good sprinkling of palm sugar. (or light brown sugar) Add the juice of 4-6 limes, but add juice of 3 to 4 limes at first and then add more to taste. (For a non veggie version) Bang in some good thrusts of Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla) and season with a little salt (careful if using fish sauce as it’s pretty salty) and freshly ground black pepper.
You could of course add a little fresh or dried chilli and some chopped fresh coriander at the end will give it another level.