21 February 2009

Mushroom Coconut Soup


Ever know two people you never thought of as having anything in common and yet find that they really hit it off and make a great couple or turn out to be the best of friends? That’s sort of the way I would have thought about mushrooms and coconut.

Truth is, I love mushrooms. Coconut, on the other hand, has been more of an acquired taste. As a child I avoided the stringy little bits of shredded coconut that were found in Christmas cookies and on Ambrosia Salads or German Chocolate Cakes. But over the years I have learned there are other forms of coconut and that the flavor itself is quite appealing. Still I tend to think of coconut as a sweet flavor, not the kind of thing I would instinctively pair with mushrooms. Neither did I expect to find mushrooms and coconut coupled in a soup featured in a book about romantic French cuisine.

Even so, as I was thumbing through cookbooks from my cookbook shelf recently, I found just such a recipe. I was searching for inspiration for a post to enter in the Vegetable Love roundup at FatFree Vegan Kitchen, as well as some ideas for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with friends, when I found myself lost in “Table for Two: French Recipes for Romantic Dining." This book is loaded with gorgeous photos featuring the most beautiful food and many of the recipes are surprisingly simple to prepare. As I turned the pages, admiring recipe after recipe, a soup of sliced mushrooms in a coconut broth caught my eye. I couldn't help but smile at that unique pairing.

I was so intrigued with the Mushroom Soup with Coconut recipe, I vowed to give it a try. I adapted it slightly to make the quantities easier for me to work with and to make the recipe vegan. I made it for my husband and we both agreed it was worth sharing. I took photos for my post and planned a menu for my Valentine’s Day dinner.

Unfortunately I mixed up the dates and missed the deadline for the Vegetable Love round-up. Still I thought I could post the recipe for Valentine’s Day. It makes a great starter for a romantic meal. But then I got busy preparing my Valentine’s Day dinner and missed that target date too. So here I am on a sunny Friday afternoon trying to catch up on my blogging and post this great recipe.

While this soup was perfect for Valentine’s Day it is also a great spring recipe. It is light but creamy with the unexpected flavor twist introduced by the coconut milk. It is pretty and looks nice garnished with chopped cilantro and crushed pink peppercorns or red pepper flakes. It can be served piping hot on a cold day or closer to room temperature for a spring or summer starter. Though delicious when served fresh from the stovetop, it stores well when made ahead and possibly tastes even a bit better when reheated, as the flavors have a chance to interact and develop a rapport. 


Mushroom Coconut Soup
adapted from a recipe in "Table for Two: French Recipes for Romantic Dining"

1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
1 or 2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, (or olive oil to make the recipe vegan)
1 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
crushed pink peppercorns for garnish, if desired

In a medium saucepan gently saute the shallots in butter over medium low heat until soft, approximately 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes.

Add the broth and heat to boiling. Simmer and reduce, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and simmer over low heat, 8 - 10 minutes, to allow flavors to blend.

Stir in cilantro, if desired, or sprinkle on top of soup along with crushed peppercorns or red pepper flakes.

Makes 4 small servings.

12 comments:

Theresa said...

This recipe looks ridiculously easy but sounds very exotic. I may try to make it.

Grace said...

never in a million years would i have considered combining mushrooms and coconut. intriguing to say the least!

Ricki said...

I just assumed this recipe was Thai in origin, since that cuisine so often combines coconut milk with--well, everything! It sounds divine, and I will definitely be trying it. :)

noble pig said...

This looks so delicious, I am a coconut fanatic!

Cathy said...

Love all the flavors in your yummy soup, Lisa. I was looking for a new recipe to try out. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This sounds really great. Did you use coconut milk or coconut juice? Milk is a mix of shredded coconut and water, often sold in a can. Juice is the liquid inside a coconut that you drain out and drink when you buy them "fresh". Just wondering. I am thinking you would need coconut milk as it would lend a creamy texture...

Lisa said...

Theresa - This is an easy recipe. I love it when I discover that kind!

Grace - Try it! It's really good.

Ricki - I think that you could change the ingredients around slightly and make a very good Thai soup. Add some lemongrass, ginger, lime juice and hot pepper to the broth while replacing some of the mushrooms with tofu and maybe bell pepper. Sounds good...

Noble Pig - I really never knew how good coconut could be.

Cathy - Thanks!

Anonymous - I used regular coconut milk for the creaminess I sort of expect from a traditional mushroom soup. I think the flavor would be good with either low fat coconut milk or coconut juice but the texture would be different, and wouldn't seem quite right to me for this particular dish.

Debbie said...

The soup is wonderful.
Thanks Lisa

EmmaB said...

Came across this recipe earlier and have just made it myself. I added a tsp of red thai paste, a wee bit of ginger and also a bell pepper. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Simple,yet so elegant..Delicious soup. 10/10 :D

Taylor said...

This recipe reminds me a little of Tom Kha, a Thai coconut soup with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves infused in chicken broth and coconut milk, and often has chicken and mushrooms. It's one of my favorite foods.

Given my love for coconut and mushrooms, this soup sounds delicious, too! I know what I'm cooking tonight!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the comment, Taylor. I hope you like the soup. Happy New Year!