Spice up your Monday with Light Thai Red Curry Vegetable Soup

So you guys know how I’m a little bit of a magazine addict, and I currently get over 13 mags per month? (Yup. Not even gonna pretend to be embarrassed, because I love reading ‘zines in the tub.) Let’s see — I get Glamour, Marie Claire, Bon Appetit, Vegetarian Times, Cooking Light, All You, Orange Coast, Los Angeles, Self, Shape, Yoga Journal, Bicycling and Fast Company. I’m sure there’s a few more too, because my awesome FitBloggin’ Secret Santa got me some new mags to immerse myself in.

One of my favorite things about the cooking magazines is mindlessly thumbing through the pages and dreaming about what I might soon cook. When I saw this recipe from Vegetarian Times, I knew I had to try it. You can see their official recipe here; and what’s listed below is my adapted version. I used chicken broth instead of veggie because it’s what I had on hand, and added cilantro, fresh garlic and kaffir lime leaves. Really minimal swaps in the grand scheme of things, and didn’t change the nutritional content, but if you’d like to use the original recipe, you can grab it here.


This soup is SOUP-er (har har) light, with each 1 & 1/3 cup serving coming in at only 105 calories and 4g of fat. So light, so yummy, and so, so flavorful. If you’re not a fan of spice, you may want to tone down the amount of curry paste to maybe 1 and 1/2 tablespoons only, because it has a good bite to it. Personally, I say bring it on — I knew it was a good cuppa’ soup when my nose was running. This recipe makes a ton, easily enough for four people. Make it for dinner one night and then save the rest for lunches through out the week. We served it with grilled chicken thighs and rice cooked with 1 tbsp turmeric and 1/2 cup of peas. You could easily serve this with noodles, rice, or crunchy wonton strips.

Per 1 1/3-cup serving:

  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Total Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 618 mg
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Sugar: 5 g

Red Curry Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

30 minutes or fewer

Thai red curry paste provides the spicy base for this soup. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand for the cauliflower and green beans.
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 12 oz. cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (3 cups)
  • 4 large green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 2.5 Tbs. Thai red curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen or Mae Ploy
  • 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 1.5 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (2 cups or so)
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • 4 cloves peeled, chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Five kaffir lime leaves, snapped in half and then torn into the soup. Can’t find Kaffir lime leaves? You can use regular lime leaves, or just double up on the lime juice.

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, chopped garlic and white parts of green onions; sauté 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown. Add curry paste, and sauté 1 minute more.

2. Add broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and green beans, and simmer 5 minutes, or until beans are tender.

4. Stir in lime juice, cilantro, lime leaves, remaining green onions. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

So, do you think you’ll give it a try? I found it the perfect light but exotic warm soup for this chilly, rainy Super Bowl Sunday. If you’re having trouble finding things like curry paste, coconut milk and lime leaves in stores near you, you can always order from ImportFood.com.




A visual tour of Thailand’s Food


A Thai man sells corn on the cob on Ao Nang Beach in Krabi, Thailand.

Thailand is definitely a food-oriented culture. I hadn’t even landed in Thailand yet when a Thai woman on the airplane offered me her cookies. I initially refused, but the insistent look on her face told me I had better take those cookies, or else. When I accepted them, she then offered her crackers. The more I accepted, the more she gave, and then I realized that in Thailand, food is a way to say welcome, hello, thank you, and I’m sorry. Not so different than the culture I was brought up in! There’s no possible way anybody could capture ALL of the food of Thailand, but I wanted to share with you some of my favorites.

Mango sticky rice

This was my favorite mango sticky rice, ironically served in the Bangkok Airport! Mango sticky rice is sweetened rice with condensed milk, topped with crunchy fried mung bean kernels.

Fried Rice egg

The best fried rice I ate in Thailand was at the Shew Ewana Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Their fried rice is not like “Chinese” fried rice, because Thai fried rice is seasoned with lemon grass, ginger, pepper, chili powder and galanga. Filled with fresh vegetables and topped with an over easy egg. Easily one of the best meals I ate in two weeks!


At a local market, you could buy grilled fish and pre-made salads. This is not unlike a deli you’d find at one of our grocery stores… just with much better prices!


This breakfast was FREE for me at the Shew Ewana Boutique hotel in Chiang Mai. Mango pancakes didn’t even need syrup, and the fresh fruit salad, packed with passion fruit, papaya, mango and watermelon, was a perfect sweet “pick me up” to start my day. I miss it!


A Thai street vendor preparing our meals for the night. It’s not uncommon for Thai food vendors to use buckets, basket and basically anything but cooking utensils to make your meal!


I averaged at least one fresh coconut a day! They were so refreshing and delicious, and packed with electrolytes. While coconut juice is not calorie free, it’s a great alternative to “vitamin waters” or other juices because it’s relatively low in sugar.


Have you ever tried a mangosteen or a rambutan? I am holding a mangosteen, which you crack open to reveal a juicy, pod -like fruit. The rambutan is the hairy red and green thing, which you peel.


Matt and I with our $2 dinner! We “Dressed” the pad thai ourselves, covering it with roasted peanuts, powdered chili flakes and a tiny sprinkle of golden palm sugar.

Coconut Icecream

We had this coconut ice cream on our last night in Bangkok. It was (no exaggerating) one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life!


Thai people aren’t nearly as skittish as Americans about legs, feet, eyeballs and head. See how that chicken thigh has its foot still attached?! Thai people also eat smoked/grilled eggs!

thai street vendor pad thai thai food

A Thai street vendor prepares Pad Thai for tourists!


Fruit stands are all over Thailand, with most vendors selling young coconuts with sweet, fresh juice for 30 baht (about $1). You can also buy pre-sliced pineapple, papaya and watermelon, or make a fresh fruit shake, often served with a pinch of salt to regulate body temperatures.

My dear reader Lauren asked on Facebook yesterday if I ended up eating a bug. The short answer is NO – not because I didn’t want to, but because we never saw any for sale!!! The only bug we saw for sale was a SCORPION, which I had decided beforehand not to eat because their venom can cause allergic reactions in people with certain allergies. Since I’m allergic to life in general, I decided I’d rather not take that risk in a foreign country. Sadly, I did not get to eat a bug, but I did get to eat LOTS of other yummy things!

Which one of these foods would you like to try most?

Satiating Satay

Since food and fatness are indefinitely intertwined, I have to share our latest yummy meal – chicken satay! “Latest yummy meal” is actually a lie, because our latest yummy meal was tonight… I browned ground beef with onions, green peppers, corn and black beans, mixed in some taco seasoning, and covered it with lowfat cheese and cornbread mix… which turned into a cornbread fajita skillet! Yummy yummy. The only drawback was the cast iron skillet meeting Matt’s hand… and leaving a hot little sear mark on his palm. Oops.

But anyways! Chicken Satay! We marinated the chicken in curry for two days, and usedTyler Florence’ Peanut Sauce recipe. (Hi Alycia, lookin’ at you!) I only used half the requested lime juice, and I’m glad I just did half because it was plenty tangy. Here’s me mixing it up in the food processor:

Alyssa and her Pink Freddy Krueger Shirt

And here’s Matt skewering the chicken chunks with big slices of yellow onion:

Matt's SKEWED sense of Chicken Satay (get it? Heh)

I served it with some steamed broccoli, steamed basamati rice, and Thai cucumber salad. (Thai cuke salad = easiest thing in the world. Dice some cucumbers, shred some carrot, douse in rice wine vinegar, add white sugar to taste). It was super yummy – and not that unhealthy! Yes, the Peanut Butter certainly fattened things up, but this is a relatively lean meal with the appropriate amounts of starch, fat, protein and vegetable. I was curious if I’d like a peanut sauce made without coconut milk, but it was very good, in a tangy, rich sort of way – not as creamy, but definitely full-flavored.

Yummy in my Tummy

And for proof that it was good, check out this crazy person in eager anticipation of her upcoming meal:

I'm going to dub this crazed expression my "food face".

What was your last delicious, home-cooked meal?

The Junk Food of Asian Cuisine

Thanks to the glories of LivingSocial, Matt and I took a Thai cooking class yesterday for a mere $35 a piece. I consider myself a pretty confident cook, and I’ve always wanted to take cooking classes. In fact, I humor myself sometimes and imagine life without j-school, and what it would have been like if I had ditched my love of words and instead, learned the culinary arts. (Now I know I’m too much of a pansy to survive in an industrial kitchen – I’m way too sensitive to be scolded about things like uneven julienne or bad knife technique).

The chef preparing some noms

Our class was at a really cool industrial test kitchen called Surfa’s Chef Paradise. Our class subject was Thai, which the teacher informed us was the “Junk food of asian cuisine” due to all the coconut milk, sugar and oil. The teacher was very no-nonsense and east-coast, but was also informative and professional. At one point, Matt was delegated the task of cutting the raw chicken into strips for satay, and she grabbed the tray after he’d done a few, and sharply said “These look nothing like I showed you. Do it again!”. I giggled for a few seconds at the wounded baby deer look on Matt’s face – cuz he’d just been TOLD by a professional chef. Matt, please pack your knives and go.

Chicken Satay, Finished Product!

We took the class with a friend of ours, and she brought her cool friend Heather. We had a good time talking shit as we were delegated our various cooking tasks – at one point, Heather was pulling tails off tiger shrimp and lining them up on a tray, and the teacher said, “That’s so cute, but they don’t need to be perfect.” We snarkily joked for the rest of the class that the teacher was threatened by Heather’s perfect shrimp-organizing skills.

Christina and Heather

I fried bean thread noodles, chopped bell pepper, de-stemmed mint leaves, and fried tofu. Good times. I also learned that you should never use olive oil on high heat (the smoking point increases carcinogens that can cause cancer), a fancy way to cut a bell pepper, and that to re-use a contaminated cutting board (that’s had raw meat on it) , you can just flip it over and use the other side.

Mee Krob with fried tofu and bean thread noodles

After we cooked, it was time to plate and eat! Everything we made was yummy, but my favorite was the Thai Pork salad – loaded with cabbage, cilantro, mint, peanuts, marinated pork, carrots, and a sesame-vinegar dressing. NOMS!

Thai Pork Salad

I had a glass of white wine and we chitchatted with the professor about her travels and cooking. All in all, it was a really fun and unique experience – and now I want to do it again, maybe this time for a baking class, since I’m not so much of a confident baker. Or, I’d be interested in taking a knife skills class, as I know my chopping and slicing skillz could get better, and I’d be at less risk of hacking off my finger. You know. It’s the small things that count! If you could take any type of cooking class, what would it be?

Yan Can Cook