~Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil Recipe~ (2024)

~Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon BasilRecipe~

July 28, 2010 by

ARomance in a Thai Granny’s Garden

Thai Country Style Soup with Lemon Basil

GaengLeangBai Meng Luck

Every time I visita Seattle Farmers’ Markets and see Hmong-farmer stalls that have fresh lemon basil;Iget excited and want to cookGaengLeang–a Thaicountry-stylesoup.It isour Thai ancestor’screation and a classic soupthat is known in every villageinThailand.Any vegetables that grow together ina Thai granny’s gardenseem to go together in a pot with a finish touch of lemon basil —a romance of flavor is in the pot. Thais seem to keep it simple with threeto five vegetables. If there are five kinds ofvegetable with five-different hues of colorthen theclassic name is “GaengLeangBenjarong”and one of the vegetables must be Kabocha pumpkin with its yellow-orange color.

Thai food historians believe that the soup base or brothderives from the base of Nam Prik(Thai traditional Chilidip). Making GaengLeang Soup base typically it starts with pounding shallot, shrimp paste and chilli in a mortar with pestle to form a paste, and placing it in boiling water, similar to my recipe below.The alternative to ashrimp paste isdriedsaltedshrimp, dried salted anchovy or dried grilled fish–think of it as Dashi,Japanese fish stock.

After making the soupbase,the rest is simple. You may use anyauthentic Asianvegetable of your choice such as luffa, Kabochapumpkin, young corn, melon, cornkernelsor watermelon rind. Thefinaltouch is always lemon basil (Bai MaengLuck).Lemon basil isinseparablefrom this soup. In Seattle in the summer I always uselemon basil either from my garden or the farmers’ market.

~Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil Recipe~ (2)

Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil

I challenge myself to reconstruct a rustic Thaidish in a sophisticatedway while keeping the original concept and authenticity. I cut anchovy fillets into small pieces and dice watermelon. The soup is gentle and not as hot and earthyasin Thailandwith shrimp paste.Thais generally serve this soup warm. But my recipe is generous with the amountof watermelonrind so it is sweet andsophisticatedenough that you can serve either warm or cold.I love the simplicity of GaengLeang— a flavor offresh seasonal vegetables in abowl.

Tomorrowmy friend will drop by for lunch.I want to prepare a summer soup for her, a country-style but elegant for girl lunch. I know she will like it. Our desert will be Yangon Almond Pancake with Berry andhoneyed yogurt. All I hope foris a nice sunny day, so we can enjoy in my Thai garden here in Seattle.

Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil

GaengLeangPueakTangmoKubBai Meng Luck

Serves: 2

1 tablespoon chopped dried anchovy fillets or dried salted shrimp, pounded
1/4 cup diced purple onion or shallot
1 cup diced watermelon rind or any mixed vegetable (please see list above)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Thai chili powder to taste
2 tablespoons lemon basil leaves, plus 2 sprigs for garnish

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, anchovy and purple onion to a boil and keep it simmer on medium heat for 15 minute to develop the flavors for the soup.

If you don’t want to eat anchovy, you may strain to remove the anchovy and purple onion at this point.

Combine watermelon rind, salt, black pepper powder and chili powder with the soup and let it cook on medium-highheat for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon basil and serve right away. Garnish with lemon basil sprigs.

Note:When lemon basil is not available, I compromise withThai purple basil andit will not be lemony flavor that finish the soup but licorice instead.You may use any vegetables from farmer market or your garden such as zucchini, squash, pea leaf, corn and more.

© 2010PraneeKhruasanitHalvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Praneeteaches Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas, her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com

Posted in Pranee's Culinary Tales, Recipes, Thai Soup Recipe | Tagged Cambodian Cuisine, phu*ket Cuisine, Thai Cooking in Seattle, Thai Cooking with Children, Thai Foods, Thai None-Fat Recipe, Traditional Thai Cooking | 2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. on November 26, 2010 at 5:07 am | Reply ~Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil Recipe~ (3) Roxanne

    This looks really good. I think I might get into more interesting flavours in cooking, thanks for these great recipes (and photos! 🙂 )


  2. […] stew with dried fish and shallots using a Hmong farmer’s verbal recipe. It was similar to my Watermelon Rind Soup and made a delicious vegetable stew. […]



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~Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil Recipe~ (2024)
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