I am not always much for stories, but today, I just need to share. Luckily, my story (or two) includes a recipe (a really delicious one in fact) to reward all of you who stick around.
Two weeks ago, I was in the kitchen, experimenting yet again. I have been in constant pursuit of the perfect Thai Lettuce Wraps. It was my fifth round of attempts (yes, I said fifth). All prior recipes were okay, but not quite there, so I decided to go with a different inspiration, one with a tomato-y base. I used a recipe as my general guide, and all seemed to be going well, until I added the coconut milk. Way, way too much. The seasonings were so diluted in the sauce that I knew the remaining chunks of veggies and meat wouldn’t be flavorful enough on their own.
I was about to give in, serve them in the lettuce wraps, and chalk it up as another mediocre attempt when something compelled me to just give the sauce a little taste to see if it was worth salvaging in some other way. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I seriously impressed myself. Not wanting to waste a drop, I added more light coconut milk and served it up as a chunky soup / stew. We licked our bowls clean within mere minutes. Needless to say, I have already made that soup again, and again (recipe below).
But it seems that whatever that something inside of me was, that gut feeling to not just let it go, was the theme that week.
For years my husband and I hesitated to even say the name of the town we moved from almost five years ago. We had lived there for many important and wonderful years of our lives. We bought our first home, we got married, we built a successful business … but, at the end of it all, we left with so much animosity. Though our marriage was strong, we hit one of those rough patches in life, and we took our anger out on “that place.” We couldn’t even appreciate the wonderful friendships that were just beginning to build and the sheer beauty that surrounded us.
But that week, as we laid on the living room floor staring at the ceiling and discussing our next step, as we wondered about continuing our lease or buying a place where we currently live, a place we do enjoy … the conversation took a sharp turn to the land of the unexpected. The monster was unleashed; someone said the name of “that place,” and we both rather suddenly, wanted to go back. It was a strong gut feeling that literally consumed us. Our anger had long passed and we knew, we just knew, it was where we now belonged.
Within a single day, we went from four plus years of refusing to say the name of “that place,” to committing to move there and ”settle down” in just 30 days.
Today as we talked about it with both nerves and excitement, my husband said he even started to well up when telling some people that we were moving back (my husband does not cry!). When I asked him why we are both feeling so emotional, he said, “It’s because we are going home.”
Alisa’s Accidental Creamy Thai Tomato Soup
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, relatively Low-Fat, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian. This is the baseline recipe, see my notes below for adding veggies and to make it vegan/vegetarian.
- 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (substitute peanut, olive, or grapeseed oil if you wish)
- 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Leek (about 1 medium – whites and lower green, tough leaves removed) or Thinly Sliced Yellow/White Onion (about ½ medium onion)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Finely Minced Ginger
- 8 Ounces Lean or Extra-Lean Ground Turkey (can substitute chicken or tofu or see veggie options below)
- 1 8-Ounce Can Plain Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s or generic)
- 1/2 Tablespoon Red Curry Paste
- 1 Cup Light Coconut Milk or Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
- 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1/2 Teaspoon Lime Zest
- 1/2 Tablespoon Lime Juice
Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek or onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute more. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the turkey. Cook, breaking it up as you stir, until cooked through, about 7 minutes or so. Stir in tomato sauce and curry paste, and allow the flavors to meld for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (coconut milk through the lime), and let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken a bit. Serve.
Optional Veggie Add-Ins: This recipe is very friendly to veggies in terms of taste. On the first go, I added 2 full cups of baby spinach leaves near the very end of simmering. The second time I added about 1.5 cups of thinly sliced cabbage after the onions. Both were wonderful (I think we liked the spinach best though). Some other veggies that really appeal to me for this recipe are cauliflower, eggplant (would need a bit more saute time), and baby corn.
Vegetarian / Vegan Option: As noted above, you can substitute in tofu for the meat, and/or feel free to go crazy with the veggie suggestions or your own ideas. The tricky part is the fish sauce. It seems there is a vegetarian version on the market, or you can make your own homemade version, or in a pinch, substitute soy sauce (adding some nori flakes if you have them – seaweed gives it more of that fishy taste), but the flavor will be a bit different.