I recently picked up from my local library a cookbook written by my cooking idol, Heidi Swanson, entitled Super Natural Cooking. Heidi, who also writes on her food blog, 101cookbooks.com, is a writer and photographer based in San Francisco. Her food is focused on natural, whole ingredients and brings interesting twists like using unique grains such as teff and amaranth, as well as incorporating great flavor in simple ways, like lemon zest or harissa.
Super Natural Cooking is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have ever encountered. Her photos are incredible, the recipes are delicious, and the information provided makes this cookbook an essential addition to anyone's cooking library. That being said, I fully intend to purchase and covet this book, as well as anxiously anticipate her second book. In addition, I have the intention (and I'm not kidding) to try everything in her book, and will post a few along the way as I do.
This particular recipe caught my eye because it brings together two things I really enjoy: wild rice and thai flavors. I have some locally harvested wild rice I've been wanting to use for some time, and love the twist that Heidi has brought to it through this recipe. Using coconut milk in place of heavy cream, and creating vibrant color with red curry paste and turmeric, she turns this otherwise ordinary soup into something really delicious.
Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons
Serves 4 to 6
2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee) or coconut oil (olive oil is a fine substitute)
1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 c wild rice, rinsed
4 c water
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp natural cane sugar
1 tbsp soy or shoyu sauce
1 14-oz can coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Heat 1 tbsp of clarified butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, then add curry pasted, garlic, shallot, and onion and saute for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion softens. Stir to ensure the curry paste is evenly distributed.
Stir in the wild rice and 3 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice starts to soften and split (taste it to ensure it is done).
While the rice is cooking, prepare the sweet potato croutons. Warm the remaining clarified butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the cubed potatoes and a few pinches of salt. Toss to coat the potatoes, then cook a few minutes longer, until they start to brown on the bottom. Toss them again to brown the other side, then continue tossing ever few minutes to ensure universal color and crispiness. If the pan dries out, feel free to add more butter or oil. When the sweet potatoes are cooked through and crunchy, season to tasted with salt, then scoop them onto a paper towel.
Once the wild rice is tender, stir in the turmeric, sugar, soy sauce, coconut milk, the remaining 1 cup water, and 1 tsp salt. Stir, returning to a simmer, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Ladle into bowls, scooping from the bottom of the pot to ensure each person gets plenty of rice, and top with a generous sprinkling of sweet potato croutons.
From Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson (2007), page 60-61.