Sunday, April 20, 2014

South Indian Rice and Seafood Soup: Creamy, Coconut & Curry for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It occurred to me that I have not cooked along with Jamie Oliver for quite a while so I was flipping through Jamie's Dinners this week and came across his South Indian Rice and Seafood Soup. Craving something coconut and curry-flavored, this soup looked full of flavor and a good reason to open up the spice cabinet.

I did make some changes to the recipe--noted in red below. I cut the oil down by more than half and switched to light coconut milk to reduce the fat, switched to brown basmati for a bit more fiber and protein and added more garam masala spice and lime juice. Finally, I added carrot, celery and chopped baby spinach to increase the nutrients.

Jamie says, "This soup was first cooked for me by Das, my friend who runs the southern Indian restaurants in London called Rasa. I've based mine around his original recipe, and what's fantastic about it is that it's so easy to make. It only takes about 30 minutes, and the other great thing is that the ingredients are not particularly expensive, so it's economical. However, if you want to spend a little more and make it a bit luxurious using something like crab, then you can. The soup is just as good with frozen prawns and flaky white fish though. Use any selection of fish that you fancy – I like to use a good mixture of fresh-looking fish (John Dory, cod, haddock or red mullet all work well). Get it skinned and filleted, then all you have to do is chop it up. If you can find any coconut oil, use that, otherwise vegetable and sunflower oil are fine to use. This really is one of my favourite soups. It's not too hot, but as you eat it you can pick out the individual flavours. And there's something about having rice in a soup that makes it really scrumptious.

South Indian Rice & Seafood Soup
Adapted from Jamie's Dinners by Jamie Oliver
(Serves 4)

5 Tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil (I reduced to 2 Tbsp of coconut oil)
Tbsp brown mustard seeds
1 handful fresh curry leaves, picked off their stalks
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala (I used 2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
2 tsp turmeric
3 red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
2 large thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, peeled and grated
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

(I added 1 carrot and 1 large celery stalk, diced)
2 handfuls basmati rice (I used brown basmati rice, cooked separately)

2 1/2 cups (565ml) water
1 lb 6 oz (600g) fish, from sustainable sources, skinned, filleted and cut into 2-3 inch chunks (I used frozen salmon & shrimp + fresh local kajiki/blue marlin)
2 (14 oz) cans (about 400 ml) coconut milk

(I added about 5 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juice of (I added another lime + extra wedges to serve)
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp freshly grated coconut (I used unsweetened coconut from the bulk bin)

Get yourself a big pan and heat up your oil, then add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, garam masala, chilli powder and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes and you'll get the most amazing smells filling the room from all these spices. Then add the chillies, the ginger, the garlic and the onions. Continue cooking slowly until the garlic and onions are soft. Then add the rice and the water. (Note: Since I was using brown basmati rice which takes longer to cook, I cooked the rice separately, then added in about 5 minutes before I added the coconut milk and fish/shrimp.)

Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add your fish and the coconut milk with a little more water and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the pan and simmer for a further 7 to 8 minutes, then stir well to break up the pieces of fish. (I added the chopped baby spinach about 2 minutes before it finished cooking.)

Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, then just before you serve it squeeze in the lime juice and stir in half the coriander. Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkle over some freshly grated coconut, if you have it, and rip over the rest of the coriander.

Notes/Results: A satisfying bowl of highly-flavored soup. Creamy, tangy and aromatic, with a healthy nudge of heat from the chillies, there is a lot going on in this bowl. The ginger and garlic come through, as does the garam masala (the extra helps) and the lime adds the bright notes at the end. I bought a kajiki (local blue marlin) fillet and intended to add it to the frozen cod and salmon in my freezer--then realized I had no cod. I subbed with some large prawns. The seafood was a good mix of textures--the shrimp firm, the kajiki, mild and a bit more flaky, and the salmon, moist and stronger flavored. The sprinkle of coconut on top is a fun textural touch. Probably my only 'complaint' was the amount of curry leaves--they don't really soften up so much so I felt like I was constantly eating around them or pulling them out of my mouth (kind of like the kaffir lime leaves in Thai soups). I think they do add another layer of flavor but, if you don't like them or can't find them, you could certainly leave them out and likely no one would notice. This soup is so thick with the rice and fish, plus the extra veggies, it makes for a filling but not too heavy meal. I would make it again.   

This is Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--the chance to make any Nigel Slater recipe or any recipe from a previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

It's a quiet Easter Sunday in the Souper Sundays kitchen but we do have both a soup and a salad to share. Let's take a look.

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm explores India and shares this regional Mizo Chicken Vegetable Soup. She says, "While recipes for Mizo cuisine were hard to come by, I came across many descriptions of the food and I developed my own version of their Chicken Vegetable Soup. It is flavored with a local herb pardi, with a flavor similar to celery as well as other green leaf vegetables, particular to the region. This adapted version of the soup uses ingredients that I was able to locate here in NYC . Mizoram cuisine is characterized by being a low fat cuisine that utilizes little oil and is simply flavored with onions, garlic, ginger and chiles."

Corina of Searching for Spice made this pretty Halloumi, Vegetable and Pomegranate Molasses Salad and says, "Now, a girl can’t just live on salad, especially not when 38 weeks pregnant, and luckily I had some halloumi in the fridge. Halloumi is quite salty but because of that it goes really well with the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses and the sourness of the lemon juice.  In fact, my husband always says it reminds him of bacon! If you haven’t had pomegranate molasses before, it is quite sweet so you may want to add a little less than I did and then add more to taste afterwards. If I’d had a pomegrante at home, a few seeds sprinkled over the  top would have also made a nice addition. Oh well, next time."

Thanks to Mireille and Corina for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.
Have a happy, healthy week and Happy Easter!


  1. Joyce, kitchen flavoursApril 20, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    A beautiful bowl of soup! It looks and sounds really flavourful! And the shrimp is a good substitute too, I would mind making this into an all-shrimp curry!

  2. I have been craving curry flavors also. Tried to make something to satisfy the other day, that just wasn't up to the task. But I can tell that this is! What a great soup!

  3. What a beautiful meal-in-a-bowl. It must have smelled heavenly while it was cooking with all of those aromatics and spices.

  4. I'll have a salad for you next week!

  5. This looks great! Jamie and I have a difficult relationship ;-)

  6. That looks like one delicious soup, Deb. Happy to report I finally made a soup for your next round-up. :)

  7. Couscous & ConsciousnessApril 25, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    This soup looks sensational, Deb. When I was a kid, my grandmother's curry & rice soup was always my favourite, so this makes me feel very nostalgic. Though the soup of my childhood would never have been made with anything as extravagant as seafood, which makes this seem very special.

  8. I came across your blog while looking for some Indian food recipes and liked a lot. How amazing! I will keep an eye on your post.


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