One of my favorite fall meals is a hearty Thai-style Coconut Stew that uses many later summer and early fall veggies. Tonight we made a vegan version (using tofu), as well as a fish-based version (using, yes, fish). The result was a bowls of fresh, filling, and warming soup. Perfect for the chilly evenings of fall.
Ingredients (yields one big ol’ pot of stew):
Hearty Greens (4-6 large leaves)
Green beans (as many as you want!)
A large sweet potato
a stalk of lemon grass
hot pepper (optional)
garlic 2-3 cloves
ginger 2 TBS of fresh diced
coconut oil or sesame oil
1 lb. protein (tofu, white fish, chicken)
1 can coconut milk (full fat preferred, because fat = essential building block of life and fat = flavor)
fresh cilantro and basil to garnish (optional)
Sauté 1/2 a large onion in a couple tsp. of coconut oil. Add a coarsely chopped sweet potato and a couple of diced carrots. While those soften, roll up your greens (in this case I used a mix of brussels sprout leaves, kale and chard) and sliced them into thin ribbons; then chop those ribbons in half (longways). Add green (and/or purple) beans. Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, as well as 2 TBS of freshly grated ginger (we grate several roots ahead of time and keep frozen lumps of grated ginger in our freezer for easy use) and a bit of finely diced hot pepper or a few pepper flakes or capsicum powder. Add a large piece of lemongrass stalk, pounded to open up the flavor fully. Stir until lightly coated in the coconut oil and beginning to soften.
To that mixture add a protein of your choice. I used a block of firm tofu (cubed) in one pot, and two filets of a mild white fish (check out the Blue Ocean Institute for more sustainable options). You could also use chicken or skip the protein all together and make it a veggie soup. Whatever you decide, continue to simmer the mixture over a low heat and then add a hearty splash of wheat-free tamari and a pinch of sea salt to taste. Cover with water to about 3/4 full and then cover with a lid to simmer at a low heat until the carrots and sweet potatoes are soft.
When your veggies are fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for a few moments. Add coconut milk or cream and stir in to incorporate. (The important thing is not to only use “light” as I find that it leaves the soup a little watery and thin.) Add the juice of 1/2 a lime to the soup as well. Taste what you have and add more salt and/or lime and/or tamari to taste. The end result should be savory, sour and creamy all at once. Garnish with cilantro and basil if you have it, and enjoy!