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Thai Pumpkin Soup

Must be the cold weather here (a chilly 23 degrees C) that makes me crave soup…LOL. Was looking for a quick lunch the other day and noticed we had canned pumpkin. Since I love almost all things Thai I thought I would try this one. I loved it but Larry thought it was a little sweet with the brown sugar and coconut milk. Guess next time I’ll cut down on the sugar…and maybe add pieces of real Thai chili…FYI – I skipped the peanut butter option!

Thai Pumpkin Soup
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes Servings: 4
A tasty Thai inspired pumpkin and coconut soup that that takes less than 15 minutes to make!

ingredients
• 2 tablespoons red curry paste
• 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
• 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
• 2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree or 4 cups homemade pumpkin puree
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar (okay Larry I will cut this back!)
• 2 tablespoons lime juice (~1 lime)
directions
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute.
2. Add the broth, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Note: If you want to start with raw pumpkin, get two small 3 pound pumpkins, peel them, seed them, cut them into 1 inch cubes, add to the coconut milk and broth and simmer, covered, until tender, about 15-20 minutes, before pureeing.
Option: Use another sweet winter squash like butternut squash  instead of pumpkin.
Option: Add 1/4 cup peanut butter! Try it, you’ll love it!

Green Papaya Salad

Our friend Lynda spent several years in Thailand with her husband. When she cooks Thai food it is incredible! She has introduced this salad not only to us, but also to many Mexicans who never realized you could use green papayas. Of course, Lynda grows them in her yard…. Might be a little hard to find for our Northern friends…

This is great when served with chicken satay….

photo

Green Papaya Salad

½ pound green papaya shredded in food processor

1 clove garlic

2 to 3 red Chile peppers seeded

1 tomato sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce (yeah it smells bad but you don’t notice it when it is used in this recipe)

3 tablespoons lime juice

Lettuce leaves or cabbage squares (optional)

1 lime cut into wedges

Peel and seed the papaya. Grind together garlic and red Chile peppers in a food processor or mortar. Mix together the papaya, tomato, fish sauce and lime juice; add in garlic mixture and toss lightly. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with Chile peppers.

NOTES :  Shredded carrots or cucumber can be substituted for the papaya. Thais like theirs with ground peanuts! I agree…

Makes four servings.

Baked Thai Tofu

Since we have two vegan friends, I am always on the look out for an interesting and tasty main course. I came across this excellent baked tofu recipe which I use quite often with non vegan friends as well. The key is to use extra firm tofu!  I know every one says it can taste like chicken (LOL), but in this marinade it is very good. The last time I made it we used it in a stir fry, adding it near the end and then just warming it through before serving. The tofu can be baked ahead….

Thai Tofu for Stir-Fries, Pasta or Salad

The marinade below is sufficient for two packages of extra firm tofu.

Before doing anything you need to remove excess liquids from the two blocks as follows –

Wrap blocks in a clean cloth towel and place in a small dish. Put a large can or a brick on top to weight the tofu down for maximum liquid removal. This should take less than an hour.

Once that is done slice it horizontally and then cut into cubes of about one inch square. Place all of the cubes in a Pyrex dish along with the marinade below –

Thai Tofu Marinade:

•             1/2 cup fish sauce (or soy sauce) [I prefer the fish sauce]

•             1/2 cup rice wine (or sherry)

•             1/4 cup palm sugar (or brown sugar)

•             Splash of rice vinegar

•             Juice from 1/2 lime

•             1 small shallot (or half onion), finely minced

•             1 tbsp chili paste – Sambal Oleek can be found in the Oriental Foods section at the grocery store. Use less for less heat!

•             1 tbsp finely minced lemon grass (fresh or dried) [not important if you do not have].

Let marinate at least FOUR hours!

Heat oven to 250 F or 120 C depending on the accuracy of your oven temps. Place the marinated tofu in the oven for about ONE hour, turning after 30 minutes. It should turn brown and have the texture of tender chicken.

Serve it in freshly cooked pasta, along with some previously steamed vegetables and a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

It is also great in any salad or in a stir fry!!! Try it as an appetizer as well, in place of meatballs.