I just love pulling a sensational meal out of the bag using a cupboardful of unpromising packets, jars and some freezer fodder. That’s why our kitchen is always stocked with everyday essentials such as coconut milk (invaluable for quick soups and curries), sweetcorn, chickpeas and butterbeans (great for bulking out said soups and curries), plus tinned fish and rice noodles. What’s more, I cram the freezer with fresh ingredients that freeze well and defrost instantly – things like chilli, lemongrass and ginger, which all add interest to run-of-the-mill basics.
I make this soup all the time and love it so much I would even serve it to friends. It’s healthy, flavourful and quick – as well as being perfect for rainy evenings in, or when you have a horrible cold. Just grab any vegetables you can find (preferably crisp and/or vaguely eastern…), get a chilli and some lemongrass out of the freezer and a can of coconut milk from the cupboard, then raid your condiments for seasoning. Here’s an endlessly adaptable recipe.
- ½ red pepper, sliced
- 3 mushrooms, sliced
- ½ small tin sweetcorn
- 2 spring onions, trimmed, sliced
- 1 mild red chilli, sliced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, leaves removed, core finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 small piece ginger, grated
- ½ packet flat rice noodles (you can use egg noodles if you prefer)
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 lime
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- small bunch coriander, roughly chopped (the number of times I have found a bag of gooey coriander in the bottom of the vegetable drawer of the fridge... Pick out the yucky stuff, give the salvaged remains a good rinse, and away you go!)
- Cover all the vegetables with boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and ginger.
- Add the noodles and simmer until al dente. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
- Mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice and pour into the soup. Add the palm sugar and stir until dissolved. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
- Sprinkle over the coriander, then serve.
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