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Meatless Monday: Coconut ginger vegetable soup

A lovely Thai soup that intermingles lemony, spicy, and creamy flavors.

By Novel Eats / January 9, 2012

This Thai coconut ginger vegetable soup is also known as Tom Kha Ja.

Novel Eats


Early last year I had the chance to go to Vegfest in Seattle. It is a food festival for vegans and vegetarians, and they are held all over the country. Chances are, if you live in the United States, there’s one not too far from you. It’s fun because you get to sample a lot of food products from well-known brand names, buy cookbooks, get freebies, and attend cooking demos.

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Novel Eats

Samantha Mills writes Novel Eats, a blog focused on vegan recipes, how-to articles and advice for the person who is interested in learning more about the vegan diet. Her philosophy is to encourage people to discover new ways to enjoy a plant-based diet, as well as to make more thoughtful food choices.

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While there, I attended a handful of cooking demos presented by PCC, a local co-op with locations in and around Seattle (very similar to Whole Foods, but smaller and member-focused – although anyone can shop there). I learned some interesting new techniques for cooking, as well as some inspiration for what to make next in my kitchen.

One of the demos showed us how to make a Thai coconut ginger vegetable soup, or Tom Kha Ja. It’s a lovely soup with some really interesting flavors and textures intermingling – lemony, spicy and creamy. The nice thing is that you don’t have to use the vegetables listed in this recipe if you don’t want – you can use whatever is on hand or others that you might prefer. The only things that I would recommend not skimping out on are the lime leaves (or lime peel), lemongrass (if you have it available in your grocery store), ginger, and of course, coconut milk. There are a few other key ingredients, but those really set the tone for supporting flavors.

Coconut Ginger Vegetable Soup
 This recipe is based on the one created by Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen, who also happens to be the person who demoed it, and who is a PCC Cooks instructor.

5 tablespoons canola oil
8 ounces or one package firm tofu, diced
1/2 carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
8 button mushrooms, stems removed and diced
3 cups water
3 Thai or serrano chile peppers, smashed
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into 8 pieces and smashed
8 Kaffir lime leaves, or peel of 1 lime
4 shallots, trimmed, peeled and smashed
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 jalapeño pepper, peeled and diced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, optional but highly recommended
2 tablespoons coconut cream (the top layer on canned coconut milk), optional


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