Rachel's Table

Happy CSA Day! {Weeks 5 and 6}

Last week I proved my pepper prowess by tasting a variety of dried peppers given to me by the venerable Peppermeister. (If you missed it – watch the video. It’s HOT.)

After recovering from what turned out to be a real challenge, I was ready for something hot and spicy once again. Cue my CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. The shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and red onions in Week 6’s box combined with the bok choy and garlic from Week 5 turned into a fantastic Thai-inspired soup.

Bevy of CSA Vegetables. Nothing prettier.

Bevy of CSA Vegetables. Nothing prettier.

I was brave enough to crush a dried pepper and add it to the pot, too. That pepper provided a comforting warmth necessary for any Thai-inspired dish.

Crushed Peppermeister Peppers - crushing these caused me to cough. Peppermeister should market Peppermeister Spray.

Crushing these caused me to cough. Peppermeister should market Peppermeister Spray.

Commercial Break. I have to take a moment to extol the wonder that is Lancaster Farm Fresh. I’m almost halfway through my winter CSA and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality or quantity of the produce. Every last root vegetable, micro-green, mushroom and bag of spinach is the pinnacle of freshness. They deliver to host locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and down to D.C. and Virginia. If you’re interested in learning more about the program and their 75 Lancaster County, PA farmers, visit their website.  If you don’t live within the delivery area, check out localharvest.org to find CSA options or farmers in your neck of the woods.

Now  moving on to the recipe.  I’ve used the flavor profile of Thai-inspired spicy and sweet in the past (find the recipes here and here). But this soup might be my favorite. The veggies stand out, the broth is delicate, and the heat from the chile warms up the palate. But the best part? It’s so easy and quick to make! Once the veggies are chopped, everything just simmers away for a short while until you’ve got one satisfying soup.

Thai-Inspired Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small red onion

2 cloves garlic

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 bok choy stalks, cleaned and sliced in 1/2 inch pieces (the whole thing–green parts and white parts)

3.5 ounces (1 package) shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon (heaping) crushed dried chile or red pepper flakes (you can substitute any Asian chili sauce here if you don’t have the dried chile available)

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 14-ounce cans coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce (use soy sauce here to make it vegan)

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

More kosher salt to taste

Juice of 1 lime

Rice vinegar, to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until vegetables are just softening. Add the bok choy and mushrooms, followed by the 1/2 teaspoon salt, curry powder, ginger, and crushed chile. Stir and cook to toast the spices, about 2 minutes.

The beginnings of really good soup

The beginnings of really good soup

Add the broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for a few minutes until the bok choy is cooked but still crunchy. Taste for seasoning. (I added another teaspoon of salt at this point.) Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Taste again. I added a tablespoon of rice vinegar to brighten it up even more and control the heat from that chile.

Hot in more ways than one

Hot in more ways than one

This pot o’ soup fed us for two dinners and one lunch. It goes a long way, especially when paired with brown rice. Garnishes of cilantro or green onion wouldn’t hurt either.

Big Bowl of Goodness

I serve all my Thai-inspired dishes with a side of store-bought chile garlic sauce mixed with rice vinegar, just in case we want to add even more heat

Any one out there want to extol the wonders of YOUR local farmer or CSA? Feel free to do so in the comment section below.


  1. First one to comment again! I took a couple of photos of our farm haul that would make you jealous. Literally a van boot full for $15. Once my teachers take their portions, I’m left with the rest — still a serious load – and I’m only out $5. Don’t know why more people aren’t doing this!

    That soup. Mm. We make a similar stew which is a real hit here. I leave out the chilies for my kids, but always put a dollop of Thai garlic chili paste into mine for some oomph. Lovely post, Rachel. You make my mouth water for green curry even at 6a.

    • $15? That’s crazy! I need to move to Texas.

      This broth is so, so good. Once we ate all the veggies out of it, I poured the broth over kale and brown rice. Now my mouth just watered. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on DirtNKids Blog and commented:
    Many of of you know my love for Thai coconut curry. For lack of time to post anything of substance at the moment, I urge you to visit Rachel at Rachel’sTable blog. This soup is spot on.

    For a particularly entertaining video of the same Rachel eating several HOT peppers (Peppermeister Roulette), her previous post will not disappoint.

    DirtNKids promises to post once more before spring break — perhaps of my own farm coop. Who doesn’t want to see a cauliflower twice the size of my head?

    • Thanks for the reblog, Shannon! I thought this recipe would be right up your alley. Can’t go wrong with veggies and hot peppers. And I, for one, want to see that cauliflower.

      • The reblog’s been a long time comin’! I yell from the rooftops “BUY LOCAL” but some days I feel like the lone cheerleader here. I mean really! The price alone should be worth it. Of course, I travel with my own bags, knife, shovel, and boots, but lately I welcome a half hour in the sunshine. I will email you — look for it.

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  4. There you go with those mushrooms again . . . 😉

    I think you are addicted to heat, now. Pretty soon you will be mainlining pepper powders. It’s a slippery slope, Rache. Beware!!

    • Haha! I just pictured myself crushing peppers and lining the powder up on my coffee table. I can’t even imagine how much that would hurt! The crushed pepper in this recipe was so strong I felt like my kitchen was hit with pepper spray.

      Shiitakes are the LEAST mushroom-y mushroom. In fact I don’t think they taste like mushrooms at all. They are delicate and nutty. But they are still mushrooms, so I would never serve them to you. 🙂

  5. That is an awesome combination of stuff – you made the perfect thing with the bounty. I love bok choy. I also love saying bok choy.

    AND you braved more dried peppers. *clap clap clap* Funny, the same thing just happened to us yesterday – Peppermeister put some habaneros in his crock pot pork yesterday, and the fumes were so strong, Babs and I kept coughing.

    • I have been eating dried peppers in every recipe I’ve made over the past week. I can’t get enough of them.

      I hope Babs assuaged her cough with some vodka and grapefruit juice.

      I rinsed out my mortar and pestle last night, which had remnants of that crushed pepper in it and it got me again! I was coughing so much that my eyes were watering. And my fiingers burned. Peppermeister strikes again!

  6. You had me at shiitake…. I was a chef for 10 years before becoming a humor columnist, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your site. The recipes are terrific, and you don’t have to be a chef to execute them. Not that all chefs execute members of their staff 😉 Nice work, Rachel!

    • Thanks so much, Ned! I see from your blog that you’ve got a little bit of an Anthony Bourdain thing going on – chef turned writer. Nice.

      Oh, and I know how you chefs are – cut throat. 😉

      • “Kitchen Confidential” is still one of my favorite books! And hey, we’re only cutthroat when it comes to slicing meat. Well — and wasting food maybe 😉

      • I’ve read it twice! Such an entertaining read. And speaking of cut throat, I’m currently reading Bourdain’s “Bone in the Throat.” It’s a crime novel, written in that classic “crime-y” style. Loving it so far.

      • Yeah, I found myself either nodding or shaking my head and grinning so often I got neck cramps. I’ll have to check out his new book — thanks for the tip, Rachel 🙂

  7. Yes! There are finally a few CSAs worth trying on your link – thank you for re-posting it so often that eventually it will have a farm that delivers near me! I can’t wait!!!

  8. I do love a good soup! And with the shitty weather we are having in Queensland (Australia) it is perfect soup weather! We don’t have a CSA here but I love the local farmers markets.

      • It’s Autumn (Fall) Queensland is known for it’s sunny weather and great beaches. But it has literally been raining so much it’s been flooding over the past week. It feels like Winter is coming early for us!

      • So summer’s over. I have friends in South Africa and the rainy season there is unbearable sometimes. I hope the rain stops soon! But in the meantime, cook something comforting. Always makes me feel better. 🙂

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