Okay, so a “media blitz” might be over-doing it, but I sure felt like a celebrity!
A couple of weeks ago, the editor of our newspaper called me saying she’d read my blog, loved it and wanted to do an interview for a weekly column featuring locals. I struggled with my nerves but said, “yes, I would love to do it.” I even took it a step further and suggested she join me for lunch after the interview so we could taste the recipe. Now, I’m not a person that’s usually in the newspaper so I fretted over what to cook, what to say, what to wear . . . ridiculous how many things I found to stress over! In the end, I found Jasmine to be a very friendly, outgoing person and we had a very pleasant afternoon of cooking, interviewing, photographing and best of all – eating.
To make things interesting, I made a never-before-tried Thai soup that I’d been hungry for since I started seeing these packages at Costco.
As often is the case, I found 3 or 4 recipes to compare and combine. I ended up slightly adapting a super easy recipe I found on Tastebook.
I made some fresh, healthy spring rolls ahead of time to go with this delicious soup. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made spring rolls, but it came back to me as I worked. All you need are spring roll wrappers and a nice combination of super fresh ingredients cut into bite-sized pieces. I used these – but pick your favorites!
To make the rolls simply soak the wrapper in very warm water for about 30-60 seconds until it’s soft and pliable – the wrapper continues to soften as you work and needs to be handled delicately. Place the wrapper on a flat surface such as a dinner plate. Arrange a short row of ingredients near the bottom of the wrapper. I placed four pink shrimp in a neat row, then arranged cilantro leaves all around forming a colorful outside layer – pretty when rolled up! Stack the desired ingredients on top of the shrimp and carefully fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over; fold the sides in, then roll the wrapper around the ingredients. Finish by gently pressing the wrapper down until the roll sticks together before placing it on a serving plate. Continue until you have the desired amount – two apiece is enough for a lunch side-dish.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until time to serve. Side with your favorite dipping sauce – I used a spicy sweet Thai chili sauce.
Our lunch plates looked pretty tasty . . . turns out, the soup was terrific!
Thai Squash & Peanut Soup
- 2# package of butternut squash cubes – OR 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- ground cayenne
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- desired garnishes: crushed peanuts, a drizzle of cream, fresh cilantro. I also used some FABULOUS carmelized coconut from Neal Brown’s Mojo Chocolate kitchen! (thanks, Neal)
Roast Squash: (may be done a day ahead)
Preheat the oven to 375 °. Place cubes in a large glass baking dish with a 1/3 cup of water. Cover with foil and bake until tender – mine cooked 50 minutes. If using a whole squash, halve it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place face down in a baking dish with a little water, cover and roast until tender – scoop the meat into a bowl after it cools.
Heat oil in stock pot over medium heat. When hot, add cumin and sauté until fragrant. Increase heat to medium-high, add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, seasonings. Cook until vegetables soften.
Stir in chicken stock, peanut butter and cooked squash. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes; taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Reduce heat and slowly add coconut milk while stirring.
Simmer to blend flavors, then purée mixture. (I used an immersion blender)
Garnish as desired and serve hot.
In my humble opinion, the spring rolls were a great side for this soup.