Polynesian peanut soup with toasted coconut
Makes 4 cups - 4 to 6 servings
This unusual, distinctive rich and creamy soup was inspired by a favorite peanut sauce. A friend shared the recipe with me over lunch on a South Pacific cruise. Just making it conjures up fond memories of a sunny deck, sensuous breezes, and the bright blue sea.
¼ cup packaged sweetened flaked coconut
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
One 14-ounce can "lite" coconut milk
¾ vegetable or chicken stock, or as needed
¾ cup smooth natural peanut butter
¼ cup mango chutney
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chili, or to taste
Salt to taste ¼ cup finely chopped green onions (green parts only)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Asian sesame oil for garnish
Toast the coconut in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and ginger are very tender, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, peanut butter, chutney, and jalapeño; purée until smooth. (It may be necessary to add more vegetable stock if the peanut butter is very thick.)
Transfer the soup to the Dutch oven and stir occasionally over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, toss together the coconut, scallions and cilantro. Drizzle each serving with sesame oil and top with a mound of the coconut mixture.
Refrigerate this soup and the toasted coconut in separate covered containers for up to 3 days. When reheating the soup, stir in water to thin as desired.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.