The Thai-ny Miracle

Before you start reading, please take note that I wrote this on the evening of 23 May 2016. The photos I took were so bad, I had to bring them to work to see if I could tart them up in Photoshop before posting. In the end, I managed to make them pretty on my phone. Go figure. Anyway, here’s the story.

It seems that the rainy weather in Cape Town brings out my inner cook. Tonight it’s been proper blustery and stormy, and my patio has been noisy. Leaves blowing about, branches creaking, creatures scurrying, and the frogs … well, they’re silent for a change.

Nevertheless, an idea has been stuck in my mind all day. It started, as most things in my life lately, on Patio Fantastico. I showed my neighbour my new birthday gift pot with my new lemongrass stalks in. I had received these stalks as (one of many) a gift at a recent permaculture course I attended, so was pleased as pie to show off this wondrous combination. He then mentioned a recipe he’d seen recently for a broccoli, lemongrass and coconut milk soup. On we chatted in this vein, so that today all I could think of was this soup! I later found out my neighbour had the same thought all day.

So, I did what any sane person would do and applied myself to Google later the afternoon, only to have it hang. Because Mac never does these things. Argh! Luckily my phone is of another breed, so I tried there and well, there must have been a solar flare not too long ago because soon enough it was also doing the hokey pokey. Thankfully I had seen a few ideas before I gave up, and hit the local supermarket immediately after work. Had, to make, this soup. Or just curl up in a Thai-ny ball on my rained-out patio, next to my new pot and plant.

Anyway, so here is what happened in my kitchen. I call it The Thai-ny Miracle.

3 spring onions chopped into rings
half a medium-sized green bell pepper, chopped into 1cm squares
butter
1 sprig lemongrass (about 10 cm)
2 cm diameter ginger
1 head of broccoli
750 ml vegetable broth
1 can of coconut milk (or cream, but then use less and add more broth)
1 tsp Thai green curry paste
1 white sweet potato (notice there’s no “e” at the end)
1 red chilli

Optional
2 happy chicken breasts, in small shreddy blocks
1 tsp allspice
salt

Fry the spring onions and green bell pepper in butter until soft. Add the stock and the broccoli (you can add this a bit later if you like it more crunchy). Let it come to a boil and then add the ginger in little bits, chopped-up chilli and crushed lemongrass. I whacked it with a kitchen mallet and that works better than the other useless methods I tried. Mix the coconut paste with a bit of hot broth and add to the pot. Pour in the coconut milk, stir, and forget about that side of the stove for a bit. Let all of this simmer happily while you fry up the chicken in a frying pan in some butter, adding salt and allspice to taste. You don’t have to add chicken, but more about this later*. Peel the sweet potato, chop into 1cm blocks. I cooked them up in another pot, but you can add them to the main pot. I wasn’t sure how fine I wanted the broccoli, but decided to keep it reasonably chunky in the end and just mashed it loosely with a fork. When everything is done and mashed (not the sweet potato, the broccoli), serve it up in warmed-up bowls.

And that, sweet children, is it. It tastes good, both my neighbour and I were pleasantly surprised. How on earth did I manage this? Happy days! Bring on winter weather…

*I initially left out the chicken to accommodate my vegetarian neighbour, but it tastes good with or without it. The allspice on the chicken gives it a slightly different taste. And if you have paleo friends, ha! Just leave out the sweet potato.

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