There’s something about a good bowl of soup that makes it so damn easy to eat. One could argue of course that this is because we’ve become too lazy and don’t like to chew, but I like to believe our love for the humble steaming bowl of soup has a far more profound origin. It is the ultimate comfort food; it is the feel-good chick flick of the kitchen. It offers satisfaction and joy and it brings body and soul in a state of blissful tranquility.
Another reason why so many people adore soup is because they – albeit secretly – like to slurp. If there is one cuisine in the world that truly thrives on our love for slurping, it has to be the Asian cuisine. Slippery noodles in a flavoursome broth with an array of spices and selected crunchy vegetables… Slurping isn’t just unavoidable, it is a must! Noodle soups or ramen are to me the epitome of what Asian food is all about: fragrant, fresh and incredibly good for you. So for once you don’t need to feel guilty about your comfort food cravings, cherish them, because this time comfort food doesn’t only bring comfort to your soul, but also to your body as well!
So slurp away my fellow Asian food and soup lovers!
PS: If you want, you can make a vegetarian version of this soup by leaving out the fish and using vegetable stock.
Laksa Lemak noodle soup with salmon and monkfish
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the paste:
• 1 x 3-4cm piece fresh ginger
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 3 fresh long red chillis, de-seeded
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• 3 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and roughly chopped
• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp coriander stems
• 1 tsp ground coriander
For the broth:
• 1,5 l fish or vegetable stock
• 400ml coconut milk
• 1 tbsp fish sauce
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
For the garnishes:
• 250gr udon noodles
• 1 red pepper, finely sliced
• 1 courgette, finely sliced
• ½ cucumber, finely sliced
• 250gr beansprouts
• Lime wedges
• Chopped coriander
• 250gr fresh salmon, thinly sliced
• 200gr monk fish, thinly sliced
1. Put the ingredients for the curry paste together in a blender and blend until you get a smooth paste.
2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large heavy-based pot and stir-fry the paste until it starts to give off an incredibly fragrant smell.
3. Add the vegetable or fish stock and bring up to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add the coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce and let it simmer for at least half an hour. (Though I would advise you to make the soup in the morning and let it rest for a couple of hours so all the flavours can infuse and intensify before you serve the soup for dinner. Making the soup beforehand therefore isn’t just a good option if you’ve got a really busy day planned but also if you want the soup to give a burst of flavour.)
5. Reheat the soup and add the sliced pepper and courgettes. Let them cook for just 3 minutes so they remain crunchy.
6. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and refresh under cold water.
7. Add the noodles.
8. Take one very large bowl and cover the bottom of your bowl with thin slices of fish. Pour the steaming hot and delicious coconutty noodle soup on top of the fish so the fish cooks in the broth. Finally garnish your soup with some cucumber, beansprouts and chopped coriander.
9. Sprinkle on some fresh lime juice.