May 5, 2010

Island Curried Soup

I wasn't sure what to call this soup. I based it off a vague memory of a recipe I once tried, and since it contains coconut milk, curry, and seafood, sunny islands were brought to mind.

So I make a lot of soups and stews. A lot. When I find myself making the same few soups over and over, I like to look for something a little exotic to mix things up.

I am new to the Seattle area. One thing I love about this area of the country is the wide availability of organics and fresh foods. So I was really excited, no--unnaturally excited, to find there was a food co-op close to my home. Whole Foods Market is a good distance away, and I have a Trader Joe's right up the street, which is fan-freaking-tastic, but sometimes you need to find an elusive ingredient that only a co-op would carry.

You know what I mean by a co-op, right? It's a local store that's run by its owners, and you can pay a yearly fee to be an "owner", kind of like buying stock, which in turn gives you access to better deals and other privileges.  There you'll find bulk flours and grains of every sort imaginable, ingredients no one else would carry or have even heard of, organics organics organics, natural products, and locally grown produce. A co-op is very much involved with local "sustainability", keeping local farmers and artisans in business.  Oh yeah, and inevitably it smells like patchouli in there, or a mixture of other incense-y aromas. Your check out girl will likely also be dressed like a gypsy with various piercings and sometimes multiple hair colors--with a big, friendly smile on her face. I. Love it.

As soon as I entered the co-op I was hit with that patchouli scent, and when I saw the gypsies (hippies, rather?) I knew I was in a good place. Anyway, long story short, I picked up a few items, but I kept walking past the produce because there was a pile of fresh kale looking me in the eye. I hadn't had kale in a long time, which is a shame because it's so hearty and healthy. I don't suppose it's widely available, or if it is I somehow don't notice it in stores. That kale was staring me down, sure enough. I knew it would make a perfect addition to this soup.

But a word about fresh kale. One must soak and rinse and soak and rinse, and repeat. There are all kinds of hiding places on those curly leaves for things you don't want to eat. So if you're fortunate enough to come across a bag of kale that is pre-washed and packaged, snap it up!  You can always saute any extras with garlic and oil on another day.

This soup is warm and creamy and so comforting, and it comes together pretty quickly. The flavors blend well together. No one ingredient stands out, which is a bit of a surprise considering that on their own many of the ingredients are strong.

You can experiment with different sea food, and I think a leek would work well in place of the onion. I was all out of cilantro, but I've included it in the recipe.  And can't you just imagine some toasted macadamias sprinkled on top?

Serves 4

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, cut in half and into thin slices
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbl. grated ginger
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (or to taste)
1 tbl. oil
1 tsp. curry powder
5 cups water
1 pound mild flavored white fish, such as cod or halibut
1 can light coconut milk
a couple of generous handsful kale, chopped and stems removed
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro to garnish

Saute the sweet potato, onions, jalapeno, garlic, and ginger in oil over medium heat until the onions turn translucent. Stir in curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil the sweet potatoes for five minutes. Add coconut milk, fish, and kale. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until kale and sweet potatos are tender. Serve hot.

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