Thai soup

Tom kha - Thai coconut soup with asparagus

It’s asparagus season so get ready for a GLUT (ok maybe two or three) asparagus recipes from me… starting with this lovely coconut soup.

This is enough for one, or for two if you’re making it as part of a multi-dish meal.

If you’re serving this with rice, make the rice first and leave it to keep warm and fluffy while you make the soup.

Take a good handful of asparagus spears and snap the woody ends off.

I love that you can’t really judge where the right point would be to cut them off but instead just bend them back and where they naturally want to snap is of course is the exact right place for them to snap (I feel there’s a life lesson in here somewhere too).

Slice the asparagus spears into smaller lengths and put into a bowl with about a quarter of a white onion and a few mushrooms, washed and chopped.

So far, our ingredients have been:

8 or so asparagus stalks

1/4 white onion

3-4 mushrooms

And we’ll also need:

1 red birds eye chilli, diced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into slices

1 stalk of lemongrass, outer woody layers removed, the bottom and top inch or so cut off and then sliced into rounds

a few kaffir lime leaves, torn from the stalk and then torn again into smaller pieces

half a tin of coconut cream plus half a tin of water (or use coconut milk)

four cherry tomatoes, halved (or a couple of larger tomatoes, cut into chunks)

a pinch of sugar

a dash of fish sauce

a handful of coriander leaves, chopped

half a lime

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Get the chilli, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves together so it’s ready to add to the soup and then put the coconut cream and water into a pan and gently bring to a simmer.

I think it’s good to be gentle with the coconut milk mixture so let it breathe and take its time.

When it’s just about simmering, add the aromatics (the chilli, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves), stir and again just wait until it comes back to that almost-simmer.

Then tip in the vegetables, stir and bring to a proper gentle simmer - and cook for five minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and fish sauce and stir and cook on a gentle simmer for another five minutes.

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Taste and check if you want to add any more sugar or fish sauce and if it tastes good add the fresh coriander and squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and simmer for another minute.

Ladle into a bowl and serve with some rice.

I’ll leave you with a question …

Do you add your soup to the rice or the rice to your soup?!

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Coconut cauliflower chicken/mushroom soup

Simple, quick and delicious - my favourite sort of recipe!

And especially on a rainy grey day, I love the sort of soothing-ness that comes from creamy coconut matched with a little spice, and the cauliflower is the perfect texture - soft but with a little bite.

I used chicken stock and some cooked chicken, but it's a lovely vegetarian/vegan recipe made with vegetable stock and mushrooms instead.


For two bowls, you'll need

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into florets

a big handful of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced and/or some cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

300ml stock - I used half a Knorr chicken stock cube, but vegetable is good too 

200ml (half a tin) coconut milk

1 garlic clove, squashed and finely chopped (you can leave this out though, I think I might try it without next time I make it)

1 couple of lime leaves, crumpled and torn to release the scent would be perfect - but I didn't have any so used the zest of one lime

a piece of ginger, probably an inch or so, peeled and grated

If you have a stalk of lemongrass (I didn't), add it! Just remove the outer tough layers, give it a bash with a rolling pin and throw it in 

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1-2 red bird eye chillies, quantity to your own taste, sliced

the juice of half a lime

coriander leaves to serve (if liked)


Prepare the vegetables and chicken (if using) so they're ready to add later.

Then put the stock, coconut milk, garlic (if using), lime leaves or lime zest, ginger, lemongrass (if using), soy sauce and sugar plus the cauliflower, mushrooms and/or chicken into a saucepan and gently heat to bring to the boil.

Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup
Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup

Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft but a little al dente (definitely not mush!) and remove from heat.

Stir in the chillies and lime juice and serve with coriander, if liked - I wish I'd had some as think it would have looked prettier with some greenery on there!

Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup

Oh, you could remove any lime leaves and lemongrass before serving if you want - or just take them out when you come to them in the bowl ...

So simple and so good.



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