Monday, January 20, 2014

Coconut Chicken Soup


It has been warm for winter (8 C / 45 F ) here so far, not warm enough to suit me, and that's hardly a surprise, but decidedly wet and grey and generally yucky; it gets light late and dark early and snotty nose season in school and kindergarten is in full swing. Last week the weather has taken a turn for the worse, it started to snow on and off, the cat doesn't want to leave the house anymore and complains to me about it and our beefy BBQ is shivering in the corner of our deck. If it looks like winter, if it feels like winter, it probably is...winter.


In the spirit of the season, chicken soup was what was written on the post-it note for Friday last week; coconut chicken soup, with green curry paste and noodles, makes you feel warm from the inside out and if you add too much curry paste, downright hot. There really are no rules what to put into your soup apart from the obvious (chicken stock, chicken, coconut milk), whatever floats your soup spoon is fine. We like mushrooms, snow peas, green onions and cherry tomatoes for color and anything goes for garnish: red chilies, lime wedges, cilantro or basil, sprouts - whatever you feel like or have in the house is fine. No rules.


Note: in case you prefer a less coco-nutty soup, use more chicken stock in place of the coconut milk. Other nice things to put in the soup are: edamame, green asparagus or baby corn

Coconut Chicken Soup

1 l (4 cups) coconut milk
500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
2 tsp green curry paste
1 piece of ginger, as long as your thumb, peeled and sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, halved
1 red chili, halved (any hot chili will do)
2 lime quarters
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
250 g ( 8 oz) chinese style wheat noodles
250 g (8 oz) button mushrooms, preferably brown
6 spring onions, white parts only
200 g (7 oz) snow peas
250 g  (8 oz) cherry tomatoes
1 tblsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime

For looking good at the table (and for adding more flavor, of course): 
Spring onions, the green part only, sliced
Red or yellow chilies, sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Lime, quartered

1) Heat the coconut milk, chicken stock, curry paste, ginger, lemongrass, chili and lime quarters in a pot big enough to hold all ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered, then remove the aromatics.

2) Cook the noodles very al dente, so they don't turn into noddle mush when you rewarm them in the soup. Rinse under cold water to remove any starch, then cover and set aside

3) Add the chicken breast to the pot.  Slice the mushrooms, slice the white parts of the spring onions, halve the snow peas and halve or quarter the tomatoes, depending on size and add all the vegetables to the soup.

4) Adjust the seasoning with the fishsauce, lime juice and the brown sugar until you reach the balance of salty, sour and sweet that is right for you; if you feel like a spicier soup, add more green curry paste now. Add the noodles to the soup just before you're ready to eat, they only need a minute to warm.

5) Garnish with cilantro, spring onions chilies and a lime quarter.

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