Mango Soup...Hot, Hot, Hot!

mangos_013.jpgThere are two things in my world that tell me spring is officially here. One, the call of the loons wake me from my morning slumber as they float on the river just outside my window. That just happened Wednesday morning. Two, the small juicy yellow-skinned mangoes are ready to purchase by the case at my favorite little Asian market in Fargo. Done. Spring is here.

This year the mangoes are from Mexico and are called Adolfo (Ataulfo). I've seen some that look similar that are called Champagne mangoes. All I know for sure is that these small mangoes are the sweetest and juiciest I've ever tasted.

If the mangoes you bring home from the store look like the ones pictured above, let them sit out at room temperatue until the skins get all wrinkled with a few little brown spots. Then you will know the mangoes are sweet and ready to eat.

I decided to prepare a savory mango soup for a Caribbean-themed dinner I was planning to attend. To add some coconut flavor to the finished soup, I tried to recreate a coconut custard I recently tasted.

While I was working in Minneapolis last week, I had the opportunity to have dinner at Heidi's, a cozy little restaurant near 50th and Penn. The food was fantastic. I was especially smitten by my entree. Sauteed halibut on a Haupia cake was that evening's special. The haupia cake was made of coconut custard that had been cut into a plank, coated with Panko and fried.

I wanted some of that coconut custard to top my hot mango soup.

mango_soup_012.jpgI cooked up some custard using coconut milk, coconut cream and a little curry paste for some kick, thickening the mixture with cornstarch.

The mango soup is very easy to make, but the real key is to use the ripest, sweetest and juiciest mangoes you can get your hands on. I've had an opened container of tamarind paste/concentrate in my refrigerator for ages and am always trying to think of ways to use it up. It's very tart, so 1 teaspoon in this soup is just right. It balances so nicely with the sweet mangoes.

Top each bowl of hot soup with a small scoop of Coconut Cream Custard. Garnish with a curl of lime. Serve. And then, just listen to all those satisfied ooohs and aaaahs and sighs.

It's a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy.

At the Caribbean dinner it will be served just before Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa and Curried Citrus Rice, all prepared by our host. I'll be sure to give you a report on the whole meal.

I plan to make the soup again while my favorite mangoes are still available and serve it with some spiced and grilled shrimp.

Coconut Cream Custard

1 1/2 cups water, divided
8 ounces cornstarch
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not the Lite style)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 of a 16-ounce can of Coco Casa Coconut Cream
1 teaspoon curry paste

Using a fork, mix cornstarch with 1 cup of water, stirring to dissolve cornstarch. Set aside.

In a medium saucepot, mix coconut milk, sugar and remining 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Pour cornstarch mixture into the hot liquid, stirring constantly with a fork or wire whisk. When mixture is quite smooth, return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cream of coconut and curry paste. Set aside while preparing cooling dish.

Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or waxed paper. Pour coconut custard into lined dish. Press a piece of waxed paper over the top of the custard so it is completely sealed. Chill in refrigerator until firm.

Custard can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator until time to serve the soup.

Smooth & Savory Mango Soup

5 medium-sized white onions, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
6 very ripe Adolfo (Ataulfo) mangoes, peeled, seed removed, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Lime zest for garnish, if desired 

In a soup pot, melt butter. Saute chopped onions in butter until tender but not brown. Add chopped mangoes and minced serrano. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tamarind paste, salt and pepper.

Puree soup in blender in several small batches. I always cover the lid of the blender with my kitchen towel before I turn it on, just in case that hot soup spurts out of the top.

To serve, ladle hot soup into serving bowls. Place a small scoop of Coconut Cream Custard on each serving. Garnish with a curl of lime zest, if desired.


Sue Doeden is a popular cooking instructor, food writer and integrative nutrition health coach. She is the host of Good Food, Good Life 365 on Lakeland Public Television. Her own hives full of hardworking bees and her love of honey led to the creation of her recently published cookbook, Homemade with Honey.