Thai cuisine is known for complex, aromatic flavors. Rather than blending flavors, Thai dishes artfully balance sweet, sour, salty, hot and bitter for a harmonious whole. One flavor can be emphasized, or two to five flavor notes can be used. A full Thai meal might incorporate all of the tastes, having some dishes with fewer flavors and some that are more complex.
This aromatic Thai shrimp and coconut soup is a one-dish meal with notes of sweet (coconut milk and sweet potato), sour (lime juice), and hot (curry). I happened to have white-fleshed sweet potatoes, which I thought gave the dish much better taste and texture than the batch I made with yellow-orange ones. White-fleshed sweet potatoes can have tan or even dark red outsides.
You can use canned coconut milk, or make your own. For quick shrimp preparation, I like to use raw large shrimp, tail-off, peeled and de-veined. I found Market Pantry brand in the freezer section at Target. If using cooked shrimp, add it at the very end so it just heats through.
|Thai Shrimp and Coconut Soup With White Sweet Potatoes||
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil or other oil
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 can coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth (OR additional coconut milk, if using homemade)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt (omit or salt only to taste if using canned chicken broth)
- 3 small white-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 1/2 pounds; 3 to 4 cups)
- 1 to 2 cups thawed and halved raw shrimp (up to 12 ounces; thaw frozen shrimp 10 to 15 minutes in a bowl of cold water)
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 6 ounces bean sprouts (optional)
- Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
- Soy sauce (optional)
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add cashews and stir until lightly browned. Remove cashews to a small bowl to use as garnish, leaving oil in pot.
- Add curry powder to pot. Heat and stir for a moment until fragrant. Add carrot and saute a minute or two until beginning to soften.
- Add coconut milk or coconut milk and broth, basil, salt, and sweet potato cubes. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a low boil and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft but not mushy. Cover if you want a thinner soup, leave uncovered if you want it to become thicker.
- Add shrimp and toss gently. Heat until shrimp are pink. Add spinach and heat, tossing gently, until just wilted. Add optional sprouts and lime juice, toss gently, and heat soup to desired serving temperature.
- Serve with cashews and cilantro to garnish, and sprinkle on a little soy sauce if you like.
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