Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegetable Stock and Shrimp Laksa

I'm officially hopeless. My name is Kate and I can't stop buying cookbooks. Here I am giving them away every week to reduce my collection and bring some sanity to my life, and I stumbled on a cookbook in a Marshall's Department Store, and bought it.

That place is the worst for me.

Problem 1: They tend to have a lot of very inexpensive cookbooks.
Problem 2: They tend to be by Paragon Publishing, which is a problem because
Problem 3: Paragon tends to recycle the same photos and recipes into new volumes and I don't notice until later, like when I'm giving away the cookbooks, how often I buy the same recipe, over and over again.

In my defense, this particular book was one I had not seen before, and even though its by Paragon, it had recipes I'd never seen before, and I loved the concept. It's called "1 Broth, 100 Soups" and in leafing through it, I immediately noted that I'd want to try more than 75% of them. That's a must buy. Plus, I find making stocks really calming and therapeutic, and the stock for each of the 100 recipes is a Vegetable Stock, which I have not made before.

I made the Basic Veggie Stock first (adapted, my own recipe follows) and then chose Shrimp Laksa for my first soup. I didn't have every ingredient on hand, but made some tasty substitutions and turned a very lovely bowl of soup. This time, I'm actually glad I broke my No New Cookbooks Rule.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 container of Trader Joe's Mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery)
1 large potato, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine
Fresh Parsley
Sage Leaves
Garlic Clove

In a large stock pot, heat the oil, and add the mirepox, diced potato, and leek. Saute until soft, wilted, and barely beginning to color. Add the bay leaves, 1 crushed garlic clove, fresh parsley (a lot), fresh sage leaves (only a few), and the cup of white wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced and all alcohol has burned off. Carry vegetables in stock pot to the tap and fill with cool water (I added at least 10 cups-- up to the handles of the pot). Bring stock to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 1-2 hours. Let stock cool, and then strain all vegetables out (at this point, my veggies were still recognizable, very soft, but I couldn't stand throwing them away. I fished out the bay leaves, and then threw the rest in a blender with a bit of stock and made a very pretty mustard yellow veggie puree, which I froze in ice cube trays so I can add the puree to soups and stews as a thickener). Portion the stock into baggies or freezer containers, and freeze for up to six months.


I'm really a soup alchemist and my Soup Esteem is well intact -- I make GREAT soup. In fact if I were going to open a restaurant, it would be a Soup Kitchen. Problem is, I use ingredient amounts as a suggestion and treat my kitchen like a laB without writing stuff down as I go along, so I often can't remember how to recreate really spectacular pots of soup I've made. Fortunately, I can always make something else just as good. This time, I took notes:


My Shrimp Laksa, adapted heavily from "1 Stock, 100 Soups":

Veggie Stock
Shrimp with tails on
Coconut Milk
Trader Joe's Yellow Curry Sauce
Curry Powder
Thai Kitchen Fish Sauce
Siracha Chili Sauce
Rice Noodles
Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper

In a large soup pot, bring veggie stock to a boil. Remove shrimp shells and tails. Set the shrimp meat aside, and first throw the shells and tails in the pot of stock and boil rapidly for several minutes to infuse the stock with shrimp flavor. Fish out and discard the shells and tails. Strain stock to be certain no shells remain. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of TJ's yellow curry sauce (if you have curry paste, that's preferable). Add curry powder to taste, and several glugs of Fish Sauce. Stir and simmer, stir and simmer. Add several glugs of Siracha Chili Sauce. Stir and simmer, stir and simmer. Grind up a big handful of cashews into a coarse powder (but don't make a paste). Add ground nuts and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 cup of coconut milk to the stock. Whisk thoroughly to combine and simmer gently. Add the raw shrimp, and with the heat on low, simmer until the shrimp are pink, cooked, but still tender.

Meanwhile, boil water and pour over rice noodles. When saturated and "cooked", drain noodles and portion into bowls. Ladle the soup over each portion of noodles, and dress with slivered carrots, cilantro, and scallions. Dress with more siracha to taste.


  1. Loved the laksa recipe. Have you sought a support group?

  2. ::laughing::

    Yes, it meets at Barnes & Noble every week. :)

  3. Haha I tend to do that a lot too! Any extra money, and I'm shopping for cookbooks!

  4. i am a really messy cook too. i end up shoving stuff around trying to get a picture without too much clutter in it. i'm glad i'm not the only one who doesn't have a spotless kitchen. great looking soup, by the way.

  5. haha.. i am a messy cook too.. your shrimp laksa looks really good. Yummy!!! Looking at your pic made me miss eating Singapore laksa...