Carrot and coriander soup with a delicious coconut and chilli twist

OK, so I do promise I will post some foods on this blog that don’t involve coconut as a key flavour but fortunately today is not the day for that. Today I am going to share one of my favourite recipes for a traditional soup packed with beautiful complementary flavours which will make you jealous of the folks who haven’t had to discover Gluten free, lactose free, veggie cooking yet!

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A delicious bowl of yummy vegan goodness

The 8 your old Natalie still nestled inside my brain would like to tell you that carrots are good for you because they will make you see in the dark; unfortunately this soup won’t save that much electricity and lighting but carrots are still really good for you. Carrots contain huge amounts of vitamins including vitamins A, K, E, C and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. It’s like a vitamin party inside that vegetable.

I like grating carrots; it could be just joy of seeing such a bright amount of colour coming from nature but I really enjoy cooking with grated carrot. Once you have a huge, healthy pile of grated carrot (I grate about 5 medium sized carrots) you are set to go with this recipe. I lightly sauté the carrot in a large pan with a small amount of sesame oil for about 3 minutes. Then I add some of my favourite flavours ; minced garlic, finely chopped red chilli and lemongrass paste. You will get a gold star for mincing, finely chopping and pasting all of these from fresh ingredients but you can use the ready prepared pastes but please be really careful to check all the ingredients and information as even products that shouldn’t have any gluten, lactose or allergens in can sometimes be surprising! Gently stir the garlic, chilli and lemongrass into the grated carrot mixture as it warms and softens.

Gluten free, vegetarian stocks can be really tricky, the majority of stock cubes or powders contain wheat flour and /or barley making it a small cube of illness ready to ruin any meal for Coeliacs. The ideal solution is to make stock from scratch but if you struggle for time or indeed laziness I have found two good stock cube options to be Knorr vegetable stock cubes and Kallo vegetable stock cubes . Both Knorr and Kallo have reduced salt options but both do contain celery and celeriac which is the only allergen in either brand. Kallo is the brand I personally opt for as they use organic ingredients but as both these stock cubes contain palm oil there is an environmental impact to both.

Add about 500ml of the stock and reduce the heat to a low level allowing the soup to simmer gently for 20 – 30 minutes. I add plenty of finely chopped coriander as I personally love coriander. I know many people think of coriander as a soapy and unpleasant taste but I am lucky enough to find coriander to be a gentle and aromatic addition to soups. Living free from gluten, lactose, nuts, meat and mushrooms I feel embracing herbs and spices is a key route to a varied and exciting diet.

Once the carrots in the soup are soft it is time to add delicious coconut milk. Coconut milk can be found in all supermarkets but finding sustainable or fair-trade coconut milk can be harder. You can find fair-trade coconut milk in cans from the Traidcraft online shop www.traidcraftshop.co.uk. Alternatively you can make your own coconut milk using the more readily available fair trade desiccated coconut. To do this you need to heat the desiccated coconut with water bringing it to the boil and then strain thoroughly when it has achieved the required consistency.

When all the ingredients have been cooked and stirred in together you will have a wonderful, creamy and aromatic Thai soup which beats the need for a multi-vitamin hands down!

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This is very much my weekend approach to this soup but it is a really versatile recipe and the flavours are still great even if you don’t grate! For a weeknight approach I would chop the carrots, simmering the soup for longer, around 45 minutes and ensuring that after the coconut milk is added you give the soup a good whizz with a blender. You can also take the slow cooker chuck-all-the-ingredients-in-and-leave-it approach and just give it a blend when you get home.

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