Thai dishes are very trendy these days, for good reason: the flavors are incredible! This soup, made quickly by means of Basic Cream Soup Mix (link to the recipe is at the bottom of this article), combines the incredible flavors of Thai red curry, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and shrimp. It is a filling soup, suitable for a full meal. Red curry paste is available at Asian groceries and in the Asian food section of many larger grocery stores. Lemongrass is becoming easier to find in grocery stores also, but if your favorite store doesn’t carry it, most Asian groceries do; it is also available frozen. If you have stalks of lemongrass left over, throw them in the freezer; they can be used as is.
I developed this soup a few years ago when teaching a class on Using Items in Food Storage. During the class, some of my students turned up their noses because of the less-common ingredients; after they tasted the soups, however, this ended up being the favorite. The amount of red curry paste is quite mild; if you like your Thai dishes spicy, you may want to double or triple the amount of red curry paste you use. Curry paste will keep for eons in your refrigerator.
3 cups sweet potatoes, cut in 1/2" chunks
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups water
1 cup long beans, cut in 2" lengths or cut green beans
2 cups Basic Cream Soup Mix
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste, (more or less to taste) – this amount is mild to medium
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 stock lemongrass, white part only
1/2 cup bamboo shoots strips
1 pound raw shrimp, tails off
1 cup chopped peanuts
Thai Basil for garnish
Place the sweet potatoes, onion, and water in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. When the sweet potatoes are almost tender, add the beans and cook for about five more minutes. Add the basic cream soup mix and stir until smooth.
Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk in a saucepan; heat to boiling (stirring occasionally). Add the red curry paste and lemongrass; stir until dissolved. Add the fish sauce, bamboo shoots, and the shrimp. Bring to a boil and cook just until the shrimp are pink. Pour this mixture into the sweet potato mixture. Heat through, then stir in the peanuts, top with the fresh Thai basil, and serve.
Basic Cream Soup Mix.