Thursday, October 05, 2017

The "L" Word: Curried Coconut Chicken Soup

It may still be sunny, but there's a chill in the air. I hear leaves crunching underfoot as children walk by the house on their way to school. Agriculturist and author J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur first coined the term "Indian Summer" in 1778 in his Letters from an American Farmer, describing it as a season when "the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warmth…its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness."

Tatsoi, an Asian brassica.

It's the season to turn on the stove again after a long, dry summer and think about soups and braises, stews and one-pot suppers. I'm back to my weekly habit of roasting a chicken, making sure to buy the largest available so there are leftovers for salads, tacos and soups, not to mention slowly simmering the picked-over carcass in water to make stock—yes, that's what "bone broth" is—that'll go into risottos, soups and myriad other dishes.

As I was casting about for something to make for dinner the other night (a situation that occurs all too often around here) I came across some of that leftover chicken in the fridge then found a couple of cans of coconut milk in the pantry. A glance in the vegetable bin revealed a bunch of spinach-like tatsoi (photo, above left) and a finger of ginger, and I was off to the races.

Thai-Style Curried Coconut Chicken Soup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 Tbsp. curry powder, to taste
2 c. chicken stock (or corn stock or water)
2 13.5-oz. cans coconut milk
2 c. cooked chicken
2 kaffir lime leaves
2” finger of ginger, peeled and halved
4 c. tatsoi, chopped (or bok choi, spinach or other greens)
1 Tbsp. harissa (or 1/4 tsp. cayenne or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste
Cilantro leaves, chopped roughly (optional)

Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onion and sauté until tender and translucent. Add garlic and curry powder and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients except for lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 minutes to an hour*, stirring occasionally. Just before serving stir in lime juice and adjust salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

* If you like, while the soup simmers, put on a pot of rice and serve a scoop of it in your soup.

Read more The "L" Word posts about creative (and delicious) uses of leftovers.

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