Southeast Asian Vegetable Soup

I have savoured the fragrance and taste of curry ever since I was a small child. It was quite a surprise to me when I discovered that curry is based on Indian and not Chinese inventiveness. Here is a vegetable soup which is raised by its seasonings above the ordinary into something rather special; it is the curry which dominates (without suffocating) the other flavours.


  • 100 g (4 oz) carrots
  • 100 g (4 oz) courgettes
  • 100 g (4 oz) potatoes
  • 100 g (4 oz) Chinese long beans, runner or French beans, trimmed
  • 100 g (4 oz) Chinese leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil, preferably groundnut
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemon grass
  • 50 g (2 oz) onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 900 ml ( pints) vegetable stock
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) fresh or tinned
  • coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt


Peel and cut the carrots into 2.5 cm (1 in) rounds. Slice the courgettes into rounds 5 mm (¼ in) thick, or roll cut them (see p.33). Peel and cut the potatoes into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes. Trim and cut the beans into 7.5 cm (3 in) lengths. Cut the Chinese leaves into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces.

Heat the oil in a large pan until hot. Add the garlic, lemon grass and onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and curry paste and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, stock, coconut milk and salt. Simmer for 8 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.