Food of the Month, January 2012: Soup

January is national soup month, which makes sense since it is normally cold outside. What better way to get nice and warm than with a nice bowl or mug of hearty soup? For those of you who have followed my blog, you know that I love soup (see the end of this post for some of the soup recipes I’ve already included.)

While I prefer homemade soup, luckily there is a vast variety of prepared soups (canned, frozen and fresh) that are quite good and readily available at your local grocer. I still enjoy a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup with lots of black pepper, accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s comfort food that happily reminds me of my childhood and is so easy to prepare and easy on the pocketbook, too.

Several years ago I started making this wonderful Thai-inspired chicken noodle soup (Chiang Mai). To put it mildly, it’s not your average chicken noodle soup. The ingredients mix together for an aromatic flavor sensation – the sweetness of the coconut milk and brown sugar, the liveliness of the curries and turmeric, the saltiness of the fish and soy sauces take the chicken and the noodles to another dimension. Yum!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans coconut milk (I used light this time)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet curry powder (I used Penzeys)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (I used thawed turkey stock I made last month)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ lime
  • Chinese egg noodles

Garnishes may include:

  • green onions
  • Chinese fried noodles
  • fresh lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large pot, add garlic and sauté a couple of minutes.

Add one can of light coconut milk, stirring frequently until it comes to o a boil. I normally use regular coconut milk, but wanted to cut some of the calories (the regular coconut milk has 180 calories and 16 grams of saturated fat per can, while the light version has 60 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat – huge difference!). It’s not quite as creamy with the light milk, but still extremely tasty.

Stir in the red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric, and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Let me tell you, your kitchen smells so good right now!

Add the chicken and cook until the meat is white all the way through – about 5 minutes or so.

Bring to a boil, and add the other can of light coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and cabbage. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

In the meantime, cook the Chinese egg noodles according to the package. The noodles I bought at a local Asian specialty store come in little square “nests” or packages. I usually use one nest per bowl of soup.

Place the desired amount of noodles in a bowl.

Stir in the juice of ½ of a lime to the soup and ladle a few spoonfuls over the noodles.

Garnish with green onions, fried noodles, a lemon slice and cracked pepper.

Some of my other favorite soups that I’ve already blogged about include gazpacho, turkey and white bean soup and a super easy vegetable pasta soup. Click on each one for the original post.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

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