Vegan Coconut Soup Recipe

Vegan Coconut Soup Recipe Recipe

I usually pair coconut soup with seafood.  To ensure that the rest of the family could share a similar meal with me, I made scallop-lookalike sweet potato out of a Vietnamese root vegetable called khoai tu. It resembles sugar cane but once cooked, it's starchy with a subtle sweetness. I cut it into the dimension of sea scallops and pan-fried them. Once the fragrant coconut broth is ready, you just need to add the wonderful looking vegetarian "scallops".

Khoai từ has been available at the Asian market this season but it's a little pricey. I think this would make a fabulous dish for you to serve if you celebrate the Vietnamese New Year. I'll try to have a vegetarian diet the days before and after New Year's Day but since it isn't time for the festivities just yet, I indulged in the real thing with fresh, large and sumptuous sea scallops.



Yields: 8 servings

2 khoai từ roots
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into thirds
2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (6-inch) piece fresh ginger, rinsed and crushed
1-½ teaspoons salt, to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons freshly grated palm sugar, to taste
½ cup soy sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons Tom-Yum paste (see tips)
2 tablespoons annatto seed oil
1 green Thai bird chile, cut into thirds
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
10 ounces shiitake mushrooms
4 ounces enoki mushrooms
1-½ teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped


How to cook khoai từ: Wash the roots in cold water and peel them. Cut into the size of "scallops". Place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes.
 Allow to cool. 

Prepping the hot and sour broth:

In a 5-quart stockpot, add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the kaffir lime leaves and crushed ginger. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the pot.

Check the sourness of the broth. Add the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add soy sauce and salt. Taste again. Finish with palm sugar (if necessary). The secret is to balance the sweetness and the saltiness. Be sure not to over-salt! Add the coconut milk. Bring to a near-boil, then add the green chile. Cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Assembly time:

In a small pan, heat the oil and cook the shallots until caramelized. Transfer the shallots to the broth, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Pan-sear the khoai từ slices and cook until well-seared.

Add the garlic to the pan. Cook until slightly golden. Make sure the pan in hot, then add the mushrooms. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Do not over-cook as the mushrooms will finish cooking in the broth. Add the annatto seed oil and about a ladle or two of broth. Turn off the heat.

Bring the broth from the main pot back to a boil, then add the contents from the pan and the  khoai từ slices. Add cilantro. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.

The broth should be fragrant and properly seasoned.

Accompany the soup with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


The broth should be made in 3 steps in this order: sour, salt and sweet. It's very important that you taste the broth at every step to ensure a balance of flavors.

We're very lucky to get kaffir lime leaves from our garden. They're very useful and smell so nice. If you have the space to plant a kaffir lime tree, go for it; it's a good investment if you're into Asian cooking.

You could replace the khoai từ roots (available in most Asian markets) with sweet potatoes and shape them with a small circle cutter.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 16, 2014.


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