Monday, September 22, 2008

Thai style soup with lemon grass, basil and green papaya

I didn't find any fish sauce in my hometown of PG, Belize, but this Thai style soup was still a nice first course offering. The abundance of basil and lemongrass (which we call fevergrass) growing around our cookhouse inspired me to try something new. The result was a nicely balanced broth infused with lemongrass, basil, habanero pepper and lime juice.

Thai Style Green Papaya Soup

This soup was another attempt to use up the abundance of papayas that we were dealing with at the time by eating some of them green. Since green papaya is such a tasty vegetable, it was no sacrifice on our part. This soup is very simple in the making and other vegetables such as young zucchini could be substituted for the papaya. If you have some fish sauce, I am sure a dash would improve the flavour dimensions.

1/2 medium green papaya, peeled and diced.
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 habanero, minced, with seeds and membrane removed (unless you like it as spicy as I do, in which case, include the seeds and membrane, or even toss in the whole pepper)
One stalk of lemongrass (the white interior part, not the leaves), thinly sliced
A handful of basil leaves
1 cube of vegetable bullion (optional)
2-3 ripe limes
2 tsp of fish sauce if available, if not, use worchesterschire sauce, or omit for a vegetarian soup.
Salt and pepper
About 4 ounces of quick cooking Chinese style noodles
4 cups of water or more as needed


1. Saute the lemongrass, habanero, onion and papaya in a drizzle of vegetable oil for a few minutes until they begin to soften slightly.

2. Add the tomato, water, salt, black pepper and basil leaves, and the bullion if using. Bring to a simmer and cook until the papaya is firm but tender. Add the juice of the limes and the fish sauce. Taste the broth and adjust as necessary, adding more lime juice, fish sauce or other seasonings if needed.

3. Add the noodles, breaking them up as you toss them in, and cook for a few minutes until they are al dente. Serve the soup as a first course with a lime wedge and basil leaves to accompany it.


Chennette said...

I remember the first time I realised that the exotic lemongrass was our old fever grass, growing free all over the place :-D
nice soup!

Lisa said...

What a beautiful soup! Your combination of vegetables and spice sounds wonderfully appealing.

Lyra said...

Hi Chennette, yeah its kind of funny isn't it? What is exotic in one place is filling up the front yard somewhere else...and while avocados are two dollars each in DC, I remember when I was a kid in Belize and apples were a dollar a piece and only available at Christmas time, and they tasted horrible but people still bought them.

Lisa, thanks for the compliments! If you try it with zucchini let me know how you like it.