The theme for this month’s 5 Star Makeover was perfect for warm weather months – chilled soups! When it comes to cold soup, I enjoy savory soups like gazpacho (or even savory smoothies, which I sometimes eat like soup if they’re particularly thick) as well as sweet soups like fruit soup, and at first I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go for the challenge. But then I started thinking about it and decided it should be a dessert soup…I knew I’d have trouble getting Mike to eat a chilled savory soup, but he might go for dessert.
When I think of chilled dessert soups I usually think of fruit; strawberry or watermelon in particular…or even cucumber. But I wanted my dish to be different. After a quick look in my pantry I came out with a bag of flaked coconut, basmati rice, and cardamom, and an idea for this dish.
I was thinking of something creamy and comforting like rice pudding, only in soup form. In the end, this soup was a huge success; sweet was definitely the way to go. ;) It’s a little hard to tell from the pictures, but it’s about as thick as a thin corn chowder. It’s smooth and creamy without being heavy, and it’s a perfect blend of flavors. Cardamom and saffron are the two secret ingredients, but be careful because a little goes a long way with both.
2 1/2 cups canned light coconut milk, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup basmati rice
3 pods cardamom, cracked open
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (preferably Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt that I mentioned in this post)
1 small pinch saffron threads (about 8-10 threads), plus a couple more threads for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
4 tablespoons flaked coconut
Whisk together 1/2 cup coconut milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
Add the rice, cardamom, and water to a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) until the rice is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups coconut milk, sugar, salt, and saffron to the rice; bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Whisk in the coconut milk/cornstarch mixture and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn heat off and whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Let the soup steep for 10 minutes, then remove the cardamom pods.
Pour into 4 individual serving dishes, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate to chill (about 2 to 4 hours, or overnight). Serve each garnished with 1 tablespoon flaked coconut and a couple threads of saffron, if desired.