Fragrant broth infused with ginger, lemongrass, and cilantro bathes chewy black rice noodles and a mess of veggies in this Southeast Asian-inspired green noodle soup adapted from The First Mess Cookbook. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Someone I was talking with recently described San Francisco’s weather as being “bipolar.” It’s never seemed that way more so than this month. September 1st brought a record breaking heatwave. Jay and I managed to escape to a friend’s swimming pool, where we camped out for the afternoon until we shivered from the cool water – bliss. But that night, not so much – I came down with a massive cold and spent the weekend sweltering and sniffling in our apartment, chasing Catamus around with a plant mister to keep him cool. Catamus enjoyed this about as much as I enjoyed lying around in my unders in front of a fan all weekend feeling like I was dying.
Having a cold when it’s blisteringly hot out just feels wrong. You can’t drink tea or snuggle under the covers or take a hot bath. But luckily, within days our wonderful Karl – San Francisco’s fog who boasts a knack for Twitter and a deadpan sense of humor – returned to us in full force. I managed to haul my sad self off the couch long enough to make a super simple vegetable soup which I’ve been sipping since, including last night when a freak thunderstorm poured torrential rain down on our city.
Our weather needs to see a psychiatrist. (Or perhaps a climate scientist.)
Speaking of soup, I’m delighted to share this Green Noodle Soup with Coconut Lemongrass Broth adapted from The First Mess Cookbook. I actually made this a few weeks ago during San Francisco’s Fogust, but wanted to wait for the rest of the northern hemisphere to cool off before posting the recipe. I’d been eyeing this green noodle soup for months, and the last of my produce score from Imperfect prompted me to make it. It was everything I’d dreamed of and more. With a fragrant broth that tastes like the freshest Thai green curry, chewy black rice noodles to slurp, and a mess of crisp-tender green veggies, it’s one-bowl meal perfection.
I’ve struggled for years to find a functional recipe for green curry, and it’s the lemongrass that always throws me. You’re supposed to chop the tough stalks up and puree them into a paste along with other flavors – shallot, garlic, chillies, cilantro, and ginger – but it always seems to leave its woody texture in the finished dish. Laura uses a genius technique where she simply steeps the chopped lemongrass in the broth like a tisane, then strains it out. The shallot, garlic, and ginger get sauteed to form a building block of flavor, and the cilantro gets blended into coconut milk for a resplendent finish. Top this herbaceous broth with cooked veggies (I had shiitakes, romanesco, and zucchini on hand, but you could use just about anything) and there’s dinner.
I’ve been a First Mess fan for ages. I finally got to spend a weekend with Laura at a little blogger retreat earlier this year, and she’s just as much of a gem in person as she is on her site. We spent a morning baking her apple spice baked oatmeal flavored with hawaij and drizzled with maple cashew cream (which is heaven, and highly recommended). I was thrilled to receive a copy of her debut cookbook a few months later.
I’m a huge admirer of Laura’s food styling and photography. Every image in her book jumps off the page, whether it’s a contemplative bowl of soup or a bright dish of bread pudding. Laura’s innovative recipes are just as varied. In every dish, she goes the extra mile to make it exceptional. For instance, tired of quinoa risotto that didn’t live up to its creamy, starchy namesake, she adds pureed white beans and nutritional yeast to hers for that spoonable umami quality. She makes bacon out of eggplant, mayonnaise out of pine nuts, and brownies out of nut butter. Laura is MAGIC.
All recipes in The First Mess Cookbook are vegan, and the majority are gluten-free as well (with several exceptions that use spelt flour). In it you’ll find everything you need for a plant-based kitchen, with each component starting from scratch. There are bountiful breakfasts, healing tonics, kicky salads, nourishing mains, and best of all a host of decadent desserts made with nuts, seeds, whole grains, and natural sweeteners.
Recipes I especially have my eye on are:
- Broccoli Caesar with Smoky Tempeh Bits
- Creamy Quinoa and White Bean Risotto with Crispy Brassica Florets
- Crispy Avocado Tacos
- Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls
- Eggplant Bolognese Pasta
- Crispy Salt and Vinegar Potatoes with Lemon Garlic “Aioli” (which is made with pine nuts)
- Sunshine Everything Crackers
- Fudgy Nut and Seed Butter Brownies
- Early Grey Tiramisu
- Decadent No-Dairy Ice Cream
I highly recommend The First Mess Cookbook for any plant-based kitchen (or just anyone who likes to cook). And I urge you to try this green noodle soup whenever you need a healthy reset (say to exorcise the dregs of a nasty summer cold) and have a bit of time to futz in the kitchen.
Stay healthy this season!
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I use Laura’s recipe in her book)
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, chopped
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin coconut oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 small green chili (Serrano or jalapeño), seeded and minced (use more or less depending on how much spice you like)
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 cups trimmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms (about ¼"-inch thick, 200 g)
- 1 ½ cups romanesco, cauliflower, or broccoli in 1-inch pieces (from 1 small head)
- 1 cup sliced zucchini in ¼-inch rounds (from about 2 small zucchini)
- 1 cup (250 ml) full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) tightly packed cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) tamari
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
- handful fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces rice noodles, cooked according to the package instructions and rinsed in cool water
- lime wedges, for serving
- In a medium pot, bring the vegetable stock and chopped lemongrass to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow the lemongrass to steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the lemongrass, reserving the broth.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, chilli, and ginger, sautéing until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the shiitakes and saute until nearly tender, 5-10 minutes, adding a splash of broth if the pan seems dry. Add the romanesco, zucchini, and the broth. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk and cilantro in a blender and puree until very smooth.
- When the vegetables are cooked, add the cilantro coconut milk to the soup along with the tamari, lime juice, and basil. Taste, adding salt and pepper if you feel the soup needs it. The soup should still be warm, but if it isn’t, gently heat until just steaming (heating it too much will turn the cilantro brown).
- Divide the noodles among bowls and top with the soup, passing lime wedges at the table. The soup is prettiest when freshly made but will keep, refrigerated airtight, for 1-2 days.