Laksa Soup

 Starting Monday with a flavorful meatless vegetarian coconut curry soup made with Malaysian-style red curry paste called Laksa. Just like any other glorious bowl of Curry Soup, I like to eat Laksa soup loaded with zucchini simmered in creamy spicy coconut-curry broth, topped with silky rice noodles and fresh tofu.

Oh, you know the best part?! I often ready the Laksa paste over the weekend and then enjoy Laksa soup, any day of the week, in just 10 minutes! An amazingly flavorful subtle-spicy broth comes together with Laksa paste, coconut milk, vegetable stock, and splash of lime juice. That sounds easy, isn't it?

I'm sure you thinking red-curry paste and subtle spicy? I agree that red-tone curry pastes are mostly considered spicy due to use of lot of chilies... but laksa soup is not different and has flavor of chilies yet it is not that hot spicy. Actually the sweetness of coconut milk, and hint of sugar balance the spice and makes Laksa broth savoury.

However, if you like heat, you can use more Laksa paste too. Then just dunk-in some rice noodles and slurp!
 First time, I tried Laksa soup in London, UK. We had a 12 hours layover in London. Of course, we got short visa and decided to explore the city a bit. Vishal had lived in London for sometime. So finding our way around, with all train-network of London, was fairly easy. It was cold winter evening and our first stop was in small eatery in busy part of the city. All they sold was some pastries, soups and sandwiches. And Vishal's favorite fish and chips. I think, every eatery in London has fish and chips in their menu. :)

So, shivering in the cold, I was scanning the menu for a familiar soup. Reading the world "curry" I stopped at Curry Laksa Noddle Soup. There was option to add chicken or veggies and I decided to keep it veggie-only. Even talking about that soup bowl reminds me of rich, creamy, aromatic soup. I don't even remember breathing few times before I finished that bowl. And in minutes of, feeling harsh winter, I felt warm head to toe. Indeed it was an unforgettable experience. In-fact, pictures of the soup today are totally inspired from the bowl of soup I drank that day.

I never thought to try and make it at home until last year when UK Chef and TV personality Nigella Lawson shared the picture of Laksa Soup she had in a London restaurant. That day I spent lot of time researching for the recipe... and spent hell lot of time trying to create that silky smooth soup with amazingly beautiful color.

I'm happy to say, after a number of tries, I found the taste and balance of flavor I was looking for. This recipe is very close to my original experience and I love it. Since early this year, it has become a staple in our home.
How to make Laksa Paste?
Laksa paste is essentially a red curry paste and is back-bone of Laksa soup. Hence the name - Laksa. You will be surprised that such simple 6 ingredients provide depth of flavor and rich color to laksa soup.  If you look at the list in recipe below, all are easy to find pantry-staples. I mean, we all have lime, onion, garlic, dried chilies in our kitchen? Right? If you don't have **Sambal Oelek (chili paste) in your pantry? You can replace it with sriracha or any regular Asian chili-garlic paste.

Now, I must tell you that authentic Laksa Paste or laksa recipe uses Lemongrass instead of lemon or lime. I had full plans to use lemongrass too. But, thing is, it is not that easy to find everywhere. Also, lemongrass paste, which is often used to avoid hard stems of lemongrass in soups/curries, is not that easy to find either. So I decided to switch to my trusty ingredient that I often use when recipe calls for lemongrass and I don't have any.

Let me tell you, if you are every  get stuck on a recipe due to not finding lemongrass? Just do this: zest a whole lime and mix with three tablespoon of lime juice. For every 1 tbsp of lemongrass paste use 1 tbsp of this mixture. And you will not notice difference in the flavor.

To make paste, I process all ingredients in food processor until smooth paste forms. If mixture looks too thick, I add a little more oil or lime juice. Laska paste stays good in refrigerator for 1 week. Recipe below is good to make soup twice.

Originally, Laksa soup is from Malaysian/Singapore region but this recipe is my taste of Laksa from London. I adapted the recipe from a number of sources in attempt to create these flavors. In no particular order, the list of sources referred are listed in the Recipe Notes. During my research, I also came to know that there is a similar version of Laksa soup in Asaam, India. I think, every country leaves their mark on a recipe as it travels.