Chefs Corner: Who says soup has to be eaten hot?

Summer is here, and the thought of eating hot soup may not be as appealing when the temperatures soar to 110 degrees. My family is a big fan of cold soup and enjoys a chilled bowlful of fruit or vegetable goodness throughout the year.

Consider making a big batch of soup and savoring it throughout the week, or freeze some for a quick meal to enjoy later. Get creative and turn classics into cold favorites. This Thai coconut soup is creamy, savory and full of flavor. Enjoy it hot or cold. Pair this soup with a crisp sesame salad with shredded chicken and peanuts and a cold Singha beer. Now that’s refreshing!

Thai Curry Coconut Soup

2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 bunch baby bok choy
2 tablespoons avocado cooking oil
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3.5 ounce package of rice noodles
1-13 ounce can coconut milk
salt and pepper for seasoning

½ red onion
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha sauce to taste

Prepare the vegetables for the soup and garnishes first. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger using a small-holed cheese or Microplane grater. Peel and dice the butternut squash into one-inch cubes. Wash the bok choy, separate the fibrous stalks from the delicate green ends and chop the stalks into one-inch strips; then chop the greens and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion and roughly chop the cilantro.

Add the cooking oil to a large soup pot along with the minced garlic, grated ginger and Thai red curry paste. Sauté the garlic, ginger and curry paste over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

Add the diced butternut squash and chopped bok choy stalks to the pot (not the leafy green ends) along with the chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.

While the soup is simmering, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the rice noodles. Once boiling, add the rice noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, or just until tender. Drain the rice noodles in a colander and set aside.

Once the butternut squash is tender, add the coconut milk to the soup. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour in a blender and pulse or use an immersion blender until the mixture is smooth.
Finally, add the bok choy greens and let them wilt in the hot soup.

To serve hot, divide the rice noodles among four bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, then top with red onion, cilantro, a wedge or two of lime and a drizzle of Sriracha.

To serve cold, first, chill the soup in an ice bath. Fill the sink or a large bowl with ice and cold water. Pour the hot soup into a container and place in the ice bath. The container should be level with the ice. Leave container in the ice bath for a total of 30 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes to distribute the heat and aid cooling. Remove from the ice bath and refrigerate the soup for at least three hours, or overnight, before serving.

Lucia Schnitzer and her husband, Ken, own Pomelo (a full-service restaurant), Luci’s at The Orchard and Splurge (a candy and ice cream shop), all at The Orchard Phx, 7100 N 12th Street, Phoenix. They also own Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, 1590 E Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, which they opened in 2009 in Lucia’s honor after her successful battle with breast cancer.

Photo by Matthew Strauss

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