Laksa soup is my vegetarian take on flavorful Malaysian red-curry soup with pleasantly spicy coconut-curry broth, rice noodles, tofu and crunchy peanuts.
Posted By Savita
Starting Monday with a flavorful meatless vegetarian coconut curry soup made with Malaysian-style red curry paste called Laksa. Just like any other glorious bowl of Curry Soup, I like to eat Laksa soup loaded with zucchini simmered in creamy spicy coconut-curry broth, topped with silky rice noodles and fresh tofu.
Topped with crunchy peanuts, fresh cucumber and generous splash of lime juice... this soup is bowl-of-heaven for curry lovers!
Oh, you know the best part?! I often ready the Laksa paste over the weekend and then enjoy Laksa soup, any day of the week, in just 10 minutes! An amazingly flavorful subtle-spicy broth comes together with Laksa paste, coconut milk, vegetable stock, and splash of lime juice. That sounds easy, isn't it?
I'm sure you thinking red-curry paste and subtle spicy? I agree that red-tone curry pastes are mostly considered spicy due to use of lot of chilies... but laksa soup is not different and has flavor of chilies yet it is not that hot spicy. Actually the sweetness of coconut milk, and hint of sugar balance the spice and makes Laksa broth savoury.
However, if you like heat, you can use more Laksa paste too. Then just dunk-in some rice noodles and slurp!
First time, I tried Laksa soup in London, UK. We had a 12 hours layover in London. Of course, we got short visa and decided to explore the city a bit. Vishal had lived in London for sometime. So finding our way around, with all train-network of London, was fairly easy. It was cold winter evening and our first stop was in small eatery in busy part of the city. All they sold was some pastries, soups and sandwiches. And Vishal's favorite fish and chips. I think, every eatery in London has fish and chips in their menu. :)
So, shivering in the cold, I was scanning the menu for a familiar soup. Reading the world "curry" I stopped at Curry Laksa Noddle Soup. There was option to add chicken or veggies and I decided to keep it veggie-only. Even talking about that soup bowl reminds me of rich, creamy, aromatic soup. I don't even remember breathing few times before I finished that bowl. And in minutes of, feeling harsh winter, I felt warm head to toe. Indeed it was an unforgettable experience. In-fact, pictures of the soup today are totally inspired from the bowl of soup I drank that day.
I never thought to try and make it at home until last year when UK Chef and TV personality Nigella Lawson shared the picture of Laksa Soup she had in a London restaurant. That day I spent lot of time researching for the recipe... and spent hell lot of time trying to create that silky smooth soup with amazingly beautiful color.
I'm happy to say, after a number of tries, I found the taste and balance of flavor I was looking for. This recipe is very close to my original experience and I love it. Since early this year, it has become a staple in our home.
How to make Laksa Paste?
Laksa paste is essentially a red curry paste and is back-bone of Laksa soup. Hence the name - Laksa. You will be surprised that such simple 6 ingredients provide depth of flavor and rich color to laksa soup. If you look at the list in recipe below, all are easy to find pantry-staples. I mean, we all have lime, onion, garlic, dried chilies in our kitchen? Right? If you don't have **Sambal Oelek (chili paste) in your pantry? You can replace it with sriracha or any regular Asian chili-garlic paste.
Now, I must tell you that authentic Laksa Paste or laksa recipe uses Lemongrass instead of lemon or lime. I had full plans to use lemongrass too. But, thing is, it is not that easy to find everywhere. Also, lemongrass paste, which is often used to avoid hard stems of lemongrass in soups/curries, is not that easy to find either. So I decided to switch to my trusty ingredient that I often use when recipe calls for lemongrass and I don't have any.
Let me tell you, if you are every get stuck on a recipe due to not finding lemongrass? Just do this: zest a whole lime and mix with three tablespoon of lime juice. For every 1 tbsp of lemongrass paste use 1 tbsp of this mixture. And you will not notice difference in the flavor.
To make paste, I process all ingredients in food processor until smooth paste forms. If mixture looks too thick, I add a little more oil or lime juice. Laska paste stays good in refrigerator for 1 week. Recipe below is good to make soup twice.
Originally, Laksa soup is from Malaysian/Singapore region but this recipe is my taste of Laksa from London. I adapted the recipe from a number of sources in attempt to create these flavors. In no particular order, the list of sources referred are listed in the Recipe Notes. During my research, I also came to know that there is a similar version of Laksa soup in Asaam, India. I think, every country leaves their mark on a recipe as it travels.
So friends, a bowl of laksa soup is perfect to way to enjoy cold fall-winter or evening. Blend a batch of laksa paste in advance, then make vegetarian laksa soup for dinner in just 10 minutes. Find you favorite comfy couch in house... Sip the soup and slurp the noodles. Enjoy!
Wish you wonderful day ahead. -Savita x
- 6 Whole Red Chili (dried thai chilies, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes)
- 5 Garlic (cloves)
- 3 inch Ginger (peeled)
- 1 Lime (zest and juice)
- 6-8 Cashew (nuts, raw)
- 1 Thai Red Chili (1-2 fresh, or I used one red fresno chili)
- 1 tbsp Sambal Chili Paste
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil (or canola oil, use per preference )
- 2 Shallot Onions (coarse chopped)
- 1 Cup Coconut milk
- 1 Zucchini (**thin sliced)
- 2 tsp Sugar (adjust per taste)
- 1/2 tsp Salt (adjust per taste)
- 1/4 lbs Tofu (thin sliced, mild firm tofu, drain and pat dry)
- 2 Cup Vegetable Stock
- 2-3 tbsp Lime (juice, adjust per taste)
- 1/2 lbs Rice Noodles (cooked)
- 1/2 Cucumber (thin sliced, for serving)
- Cilantro (fresh leaves, chopped)
- Lime (cut into wedges)
1. Make Laksa Paste: To make paste, in food processor jar, add soaked chilies (discard water in which these were soaked), and all ingredients from the Laksa Paste ingredient list above. Process until smooth pasta forms. Remove in a bowl. Paste stays good for up to one week.
2. Bring a pot of water to rolling boil and cook rice noodles according to package directions.
3. Heat a skillet. Add 1/2 of laksa paste. Saute for 1 minute to develop flavor and also to cook-off raw flavor of onion. Now, add chopped veggies, such as zucchini, (add mushroom or bell pepper if you like) and cook until crisp (not mushy i.e. veggies are cooked but still have bite).
4. Add vegetable stock and coconut milk with *1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp lime juice, and generous pinch of salt. Bring to boil and simmer until just started to thicken (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat. Taste broth and adjust salt, sugar and lime juice.
5. In four serving bowls, add serving of cooked noodles, ladle soup on top dividing equally. Top with sliced tofu, sliced cucumber, cilantro and more chilies. Serve and enjoy!
Sambal Oelek is not vegan whereas rest of the ingredients in this soup are all vegan. So, you can replace sambal paste with a regular vegan chili-garlic paste to make this soup vegan.
* I end up adding up-to a tbsp sugar to balance the flavors. Also, it is best to taste and adjust salt. Salt brings out the flavor of everything - coconut, curry paste. Sauce may take 2-5 minutes to thicken. Keep simmering until soup has desired consistency.
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