Cooking for the Solomon Islands, part 2: Coconut Lime Curry Soup

Is this really something that the Solomon Islands is known for? Probably not, but I could use my freshly-made coconut milk, I like the blog I found it on, I didn’t have a lot of other options, and it sounded really good.

Game on.

Coconut Lime Curry Soup

adapted from an original recipe at SOOP: Soups of Our Planet

Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 cup shallots, chopped (approximately 4 large shallots)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped*
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 3 tablespoons curry powder** (divided)
    • 1 cup fresh coconut milk (or 1 can light coconut milk, store-bought)
    • juice of two limes
    • salt to taste

* peeling butternut squash: just do this. So very easy.

** curry powder: the original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but that really depends on your curry powder. I happen to have a pretty intense one right now, so 2 tablespoons would have been enough. What brand or blend you have on hand will also affect how much salt you will use.

image by Todd F.
image by Todd F.

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Saute shallots until softened (3 to 5 minutes)
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder; stir and heat for 1 minute
  4. Add garlic and ginger, being very sure to not burn garlic – cook for another minute
  5. Add the butternut squash, making sure to stir and coat with as much of the curry mix as possible
  6. Add stock and water; bring to a boil

    image by Todd F.
    image by Todd F.
  7. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for around 30 minutes.
    1. You’re looking for the squash to be fork tender but not too mushy.
  8. When tender, transfer in batches to a blender to puree, or use an immersion blender
  9. Stir in the coconut milk, the rest of the curry, lime juice, and salt to taste.
  10. Let the flavors mingle for a few, and then serve with limes slices, fresh cilantro, or fresh basil
image by Todd F.
image by Todd F. (I have a broken leg right now, and have been craving fruit like crazy. Hence the apple garnish.)

Cooking for the Solomon Islands: DIY Coconut Milk

So far behind in cooking…but oh well!

Much like my search for books about the Solomon Islands, my quest for recipes did not turn up much. I kept running into the same three recipes from other global cooking blogs; we all seem to like the same food.

So…I combined a few things and here we are: I made homemade coconut milk and then whipped up some soup, using that very fresh ingredient. Easy peasy.

First up: Lots of coconuts in the Solomon Islands…coconut milk seemed like a natural thing to make.

Homemade Coconut Milk

This is really straight-forward stuff, and once you make it, you won’t want to use store-bought again.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 8oz bag Dried coconut (flakes, shredded, whatever).
    • I’ve always used non-frozen shredded; I would imagine frozen would be just fine, thawed
  • 4 cups Hot water (not boiling; remember – you will be touching it with your hands in just a few)
  • Blender
  • Cheesecloth or nut milk bag
  • Bowl (lined with cheesecloth)
  • Medium size Mason jar (to put your awesome coconut milk in)

What you’ll do:

  • Dump the whole bag of dried coconut into the blender
  • Pour all the water directly on to the coconut
  • Let sit for a few (maybe 5-10 minutes)
  • Puree 1-2 minutes
  • Pour into the cheesecloth/nut milk bag
  • Most of the liquid should go right through; make sure you squeeze out the rest
  • Transfer to your Mason jar
  • Store in the fridge for up to 4 days, or frozen for 3 months
    • Coconut oils solidify in cool temps really quickly. Just shake for a few minutes, and you are ready to go
  • Use it where ever you normally use coconut milk and/or any other kind of milk.

I love this stuff. So simple, so inexpensive, so good. And you can make soup! More on that tomorrow…

DIY Coconut Milk
DIY Coconut Milk
(image by The Global Reader)

Reading About the Solomon Islands – Living Tradition: A Changing Life in Solomon Islands

Super tough to find much of anything for the Solomon Islands that didn’t have to do with the battle at Guadalcanal. An interesting, worthwhile topic of course, but not really in keeping with my reading goals.

I eventually settled on an autobiography written in the late ’90s called Living Tradition: A Changing Life in Solomon Islands. It’s the life story of a gentleman named Michael Kwaioloa, as told to anthropologist Ben Burt.

Mr. Kwaioloa was born and raised on the island of Malaita, where he experienced the dual cultures of traditional Solomon life combined with the more recent addition of born-again Christianity.

Village near Auki,the capital of Malaita
Village near Auki,the capital of Malaita
(image by By Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, via Wikimedia Commons)

As is the case with many young people, Mr. Kwaioloa wanted to see the world beyond the boundaries of his childhood, so he struck out for greener pastures. He eventually settled in the capital city of Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal, where he married and is raising his family.

Autobiographies can be difficult. You only find out as much as the author wants to reveal. Toss in the filter of an anthropologist, and there’s even more distance. I felt as if I got a brief glimpse into life in a place I’m not familiar with, but nothing too in-depth. Still, I am glad to have read the book, and will keep my eye out for more info on a very interesting culture.

Honiara
Honiara (By Friars Balsam (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Country #20 – Solomon Islands

I’ve recently started a new job, after a crazy couple of years, and I’m jealously guarding my energy reserves right now. One thing I haven’t felt like doing is cooking, but I have been all about reading. So at this point, I’m just forging ahead with the literary side of this blog, and when culinary inspiration strikes again I’ll cook up a storm…

Country #20 is the Solomon Islands. I know very little about this part of the world, so I’m very interested in this new adventure.