a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
Pu-erh is quickly becoming one of my favorite cooking teas. Most Pu-erh has a strong, rich flavor that can stand up to a lot of other ingredients. That’s why it works perfectly to flavor the broth base of this curried soup.
Pu-erh falls into its own category of tea. It’s a Chinese tea that’s processed in a completely different method from black, green or white tea. With Pu-erh, the tea leaves are picked, slightly withered, and then instead of being oxidized and dried, the leaves are piled together and allowed to ferment for a month or longer. The fermenting process releases beneficial bacteria that start to color and flavor the tea. The fermented tea is then pressed into bricks to dry and age for months, years or even decades. Like some wines, the longer Pu-erh ages, the deeper its flavor profile becomes. Many Pu-erh teas are described as earthy, mossy or mushroom-like. Your Pu-erh should never smell or taste moldy, however; that means it’s likely gone bad.
Have fun with this warming, winter soup by experimenting with different Pu-erh teas for the broth base or try it with different curry flavors. I used a Vindaloo curry powder to flavor my soup, but it’s a fun base to try with any of your favorite curry blends.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
6 cups water
2 cups light coconut milk
2 small Pu-erh tea cakes (or 2 tablespoons loose leaf Pu-erh tea)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 pound carrots, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon of your favorite curry powder (I used Vindaloo)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
fresh cilantro and plain yogurt for garnish
1. Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the tea (breaking it up if you’re using Pu-erh cakes) and reduce to a low simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until very soft and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, carrots, curry powder, and soy sauce, and cook for 8 to 10 more minutes, until vegetables are tender.
3. Carefully add the vegetable mixture to the tea broth, stir in coconut milk, and simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 more minutes, until vegetables are falling apart when you poke them with a fork.
4. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender, in batches, and puree until smooth. Lightly rewarm pureed mixture, then season with additional soy sauce (or salt) if necessary.
5. Serve warm with fresh cilantro, yogurt and a side of naan bread. It’s also delicious (and bulkier) served over cooked brown rice. This soup freezes really well, too.