Water, Water, Everywhere, and Only Soup to Drink

The world’s biggest water fight is going on right now, amid the hottest month of the year. Songkran, a celebration of the Thai New Year, has captured my imagination and jealousy for a number of years now. Temperatures can reach well into the 90’s, if not topple the scale and breach 100 degrees, which makes the waterworks both symbolic and necessary to keep one’s cool. Wash away the previous year’s misfortunes, transgressions, and any other ill will to start fresh and clean once more. Taking place April 13 – 15, anyone who’s not already sopping wet on the streets has missed the boat on this experience, but someday, it could be the trip of a lifetime. Just be sure to pack a bathing suit and plenty of towels.

Hot soup may not be the most appropriate dish for an actual Thai celebration, but for better or for worse, our April climate is considerably more mild. The time seemed ripe to dig this gem out from the recipe archive, especially since it had sat there for years without ever being made. Flipping through the recipe binder at Health in a Hurry one day, trying to straighten up the pages with Sue close at hand, I stumbled across this unassuming paper, filled with bright, exotic flavors that I had never seen grace our little soup bar. Without missing a beat, Sue scanned the paper and gave me her blessing to share it with the world, rather than let such a stunning formula go to waste. It’s such a shame that it took me well over another year to finally do so.

If you had seen that original recipe, though, you might understand. Only if you knew Sue could you translate such scripture. After a few tweaks for personal taste and volume, I had my own edible Thai festival for dinner.

Thai Vegetable Soup

1 Tablespoon Peanut or Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Jalapeno
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Ginger
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, Sliced into 1-Inch Batons
1/4 Cup Jicama, Peeled and Sliced into 1-Inch Batons
1/4 Cup Carrot, Peeled and Sliced into 1-Inch Batons
1/2 Cup Sliced Button Mushrooms
1 14-Ounce Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Lemongrass, Finely Chopped and Bruised
3 – 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves (Optional)
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
3 – 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
1/2 Cup Snow Peas
1/2 Cup String Beans, Cut into 1-Inch Pieces
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
1/2 Cup Asparagus, Cut into 1-Inch Pieces
Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, Roughly Torn or Chopped

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat before adding in the jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 4 – 5 minutes, until highly aromatic. Add in the sliced pepper, jicama, carrot, and mushrooms, and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes until very lightly browned. Pour in the can of tomatoes, liquid and all, and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze the delicious brown bits that may be sticking.

Bundle up the bashed lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, if using, in a tea bag. Drop it into the stock pot along with the lime juice and 3 cups of the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the soup simmer gently for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still crisp. Toss in the snow peas, string beans, frozen peas (no need to thaw) and asparagus, stirring to incorporate. Cook for just 2 minutes, until the newest vegetable additions are bright green.

Give the soup a taste, and add the final cup of stock if desired, and salt and pepper as needed. Remove and discard the tea bag full of aromatics. Top off with fresh mint and serve immediately.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe


30 thoughts on “Water, Water, Everywhere, and Only Soup to Drink

  1. That sounds and looks lovely. Perfect for this “spring” weather, which sees (in this area anyway) cold rain one day and only a dim glow of sun behind clouds the next. A nice, warming soup is still most welcome! :)

  2. Perfect timing! I’m looking for recipes to serve to Thai guests next week. We were just recently in Thailand, in 105˚ heat, listening to our Thai friends telling us about the upcoming water festival, and wishing we could celebrate a couple weeks early.

  3. We have a Thai friend living in the U.K. who would cut off her right arm to be at Songkran…mainly because it would be HOT there! ;). Love the recipe, clean pure healthy and perfect for redemption of stale starchy tastebuds :)

  4. i love the idea of a huge water balloon fight to celebrate the new year! and i’m a fan of soup ANY time of year, especially one that has a thai undertone! i love the abundance of veggies in this one. and it’s simple enough for me to make on a week night!

  5. I’ve never heard of this festival before but it sounds like a lot of fun! Two of my friends are in Thailand right now and I hope they’re taking part in it so I can hear the details. This soup sounds delicious and is filled with so many goodies!

  6. Lots of yummy ingredients in this soup! Looks like a recipe to keep handy for the colder days, like that there is some spice in this too.

  7. Amazing how well you can photograph soup! Looks really delicious! I love the balance of flavours of sweet, salty and spicy in thai soups.. Wish I could have some of this now!

    Have you been to Thailand for the Songkran festival previously?

    1. Right now I can only dream of making it to Thailand for this, or any, festival… But I’m holding out hope that someday I can make it happen. Thailand is definitely near the top of my travel list!

  8. I love the sound of this soup and the complexity of flavors…beautiful pictures Hannah.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  9. I so need a bowl of this right now! It’s snowing and cold here in Denver and I’m getting antsy for warm weather. I love aromatic, brothy soups and am really intrigued by the jicama; it’s one of my favorite vegetables and I bet it adds a wonderful crunch to the soup.

  10. I can validate for the hot and sticky here in Asia. Sometimes with temperatures in the mid 30’s Celcius and humidity so dense you could wring your shirt out every few minutes and it is only April… Your hot soup is perfect as I have the aircon on and would love a simple and healthy nourishing soup.

  11. this is one gorgeous soup. It is still chilly out here and and with all those flavors and veggies, just perfect for dinner by the fireplace.

  12. Thai New Year sounds really fun but that super hot weather could be a deal breaker for me. :-) Yummy looking soup though, love the beautiful colors!

  13. This looks like an amazing soup- add tofu or some other protein and you would have a complete meal. I had to check out your blog since my “baby” just turned 18, and is also really interested in food and cooking. You are such a talented photog- my real weakness.

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