Caroline Lange

private chef // new york

Filtering by Tag: soup

coconut broth that won't cure everything but certainly feels like it could

Not in a Here, drink this raw garlic/ginger/cayenne/vinegar tonic sort of way, the good old-fashioned it will hurt but it's good for you method.

On the contrary, the comfort comes from its creaminess (of course) and its simplicity. Honestly, it's right on the brink of plain: hot, a salty-savory-sweet all at once, a subtle edge of heat, plus a heap of slippery noodles, which everyone knows make anything better—the blues, heartbreak, political woes, the flu (none of which anyone in this house has at the current moment, except maybe political woes, thank goddess). Also it takes only 15 minutes to make. I don't know why I don't make this soup once a week.

I should say that A once made this soup for me and I have stolen and fiddled with it after marveling at it—simultaneously both clean-tasting and full-tasting, the sort of straightforwardly delicious thing I want to eat when the world feels the opposite of straightforward. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and I think that's especially true with food. Thanks, A.

Coconut Broth with Rice Noodles
4 servings

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Generous pinch kosher salt plus more to taste
1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 green chile, halved
1 8-ounce (or so) package rice noodles (the teeny vermicelli or the thicker banh pho ones are both good)
1 pound firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and shaved into ribbons with a peeler
1/4 to 1/2 small napa cabbage, thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves and thinly sliced scallions to serve

Sauté the shallot and ginger with the olive oil and the pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shallot and ginger are soft, fragrant, and translucent—don't let them color much.

Pour in the coconut milk, then fill the can with water and add that too, along with the split chile. Increase the heat to high, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer gently 10 to 15 minutes. Taste the broth for salt. Discard the chile.

While the broth is simmering, cook the noodles: Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook until the noodles are tender (according to package instructions). Drain and rinse the noodles well. Set aside.

To serve, divide the noodles and tofu between 4 shallow bowls and ladle the broth on top. Top with the shaved carrots and cabbage, plus any cilantro and scallions. Serve very hot.

hello out there + creamy tomato soup

The last time I had a blog, it was a Tumblr—the year was 2012, and I was not writing much about food. It is 2018, the Tumblr is long gone, and, following a year of post-media-job burnout, I'm making some space to write again. Also: I want a place to put recipes. One of my intentions this year is to write down recipes as I think of them, instead of making something, having a vague thought about recording the recipe somewhere, and then letting it float off into the ether.

I always find the first few days of the year optimistic but lonely. There's so much newness. Here in New York it's bitter cold—the streets are all salt-bleached and so bright white—and people are still finding their ways back to work after the holidays, and I always feel, the first weeks of January, like I just want everyone back where they're supposed to be. L flew to California for New Year's and won't be home for another week, so it's just me and our cat, tormenting each other.

I've been making and eating a lot of soup these solo weeks. When we were in school, A and I would cook in big batches and pack up our respective freezers; then we'd survey our stashes proudly and A would talk about how much she loved the practice, how secure and cared for it made her feel, how she felt like a pioneer. Last week I made two beany stews, a harira that I liked but want to improve on (I have this harira fixation from a time I went to Housing Works years ago and bought a cheap and incredible bowl of tomatoey, cinnamony harira. I am trying to recreate it.. This one, from Epicurious, was good but was missing richness or smokiness or something. And I think I want a lentil-only version.) and a vegan hoppin' John (for new-year luck, of course). Since bean soups become completely exhausting to me after two or three helpings, I froze big portions of both. It does feel very responsible, very pioneer-like.

The first recipe I remember feeling like I totally came up with is tomato soup. I didn't grow up eating soup, canned or otherwise, since I didn't like the feeling of drinking a meal—so I've never had Campbell's, but someone told me this tastes a little like it. Luckily my feelings toward soup in general have changed, but I still don't think I'd ever had tomato soup before this one, and was struck with this alien and urgent Need for it. It's totally cozy and unfussy, the way tomato soup should be, and it doesn't taste like tomato sauce, which tomato soup never should. I also love this recipe because I almost always have the ingredients in the pantry.

Sometimes I swap the onion for a couple of shallots. I'm sure you could substitute the milk for a nondairy one with no problem—coconut milk would be really good, I bet, especially if you sautéed a little turmeric and cumin seed and coriander with the onion. Or sauté fennel seeds with the onion. Or add, in addition to the onion, half a bulb of chopped fennel, then garnish with the snipped fronds.

Here's a photo I took of the recipe as I wrote it out by hand (2013!). I'm translating my handwriting below, too.


Creamy Tomato Soup
2 servings with half-grilled cheeses, 3 servings with whole grilled cheeses

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large onion (or 2 shallots), chopped small
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Freshly ground black pepper
Cream or plain yogurt to serve

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the flour and cook about a minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk, broth, and tomato paste. Stir to combine completely, then whisk in the baking soda—the soup will foam for a few seconds, and then you'll be done. Grind some black pepper in and taste for seasoning.

Serve with cream or yogurt swirled into it.