You have heard it said, “there is no place like home.” Having spent two weeks in the sunshine surrounded by my family and then returning to the polar vortex gives me pause about the validity of this statement. When I stepped outside after returning to my hometown I was chilled through to my soul. To top it off we have had an additional few inches of snow. UGH! I am so over it! Ok I will concede I missed my bed, my dog, my electric toothbrush, my kitchen and writing to all of you, but I did not miss the frigid temperatures. In my opinion, the only good thing about Winter is that it lends itself to the making of those slow cooking soups, stews and braises. Those dishes that warm you from the inside out and make your home smell like love are the perfect remedy for the seasonal blues.
The recipe I am sharing today comes with a bit of a sweet tale. My husband is a musician and spent his career as a high school band director. When I came on the scene I was privileged to meet and connect with many of his young students. I teased them relentlessly about their poor eating habits, cooked them tasty, nutritional foods and earned the affectionate title of “food police.” I believed by introducing them to healthy alternatives they may make better choices. I certainly didn’t reach everyone but to this day I still have some of those students writing to me asking for recipe ideas and sharing recipes they have discovered. This is how I came to have this soup in my repertoire. It all started with hummus. I made a batch and sent it to school for the kids. One student,Brian, whose love of cooking was budding, asked me for the recipe. I sent him one for carrot hummus and one for Asian hummus which he tells me he still makes. We continued to talk about food over the years. During that time he has become a police officer, husband and father and his passion for and expertise in cooking has grown. Knowing my love of Southeast Asian flavors, he recently sent me this recipe. It is easy, very flavorful and can be adapted to chicken, seafood or made vegetarian. I am passing it to you with my compliments to Brian.
Thai Curry Soup Serves 6
Recipe given to me by Brian Noll
2T cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, minced ( I used black garlic)
1-2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
1 t fresh ginger, grated
2 t red curry paste
6 cups chicken broth
2 t soy sauce or fish sauce
1 T sugar
1 package rice noodles
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
4 T fresh lime juice
1 c mushrooms, sliced
3 oz. baby spinach
Fresh cilantro to taste
1lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, optional (chicken could also be substituted)
- Heat small amount of oil in pan and add garlic, ginger and lemon grass. Let cook until aromatic then add curry paste. Add 1/2 of the chicken stock and stir until curry paste is dissolved. Add rest of chicken stock, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes to let flavors marry and develop.
- Prepare noodles according to package directions, set aside.
- Add coconut milk and lime juice. Stir in cilantro, mushrooms and spinach, shrimp, if using, and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes.
- Portion noodles among bowls and ladle portion of soup over each distributing shrimp, if using, equally. Garnish with a bit of cilantro.
This soup is packed with flavor and very aromatic. The flavor profile of hot, sour, salty, sweet is achieved by the use of the red curry paste, lime, soy or fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. If you want to be more authentic, use the fish sauce instead of soy sauce and replace 2T of the lime juice with a kaffir lime leaf. I used black garlic which is a trendy fermented product and becoming more available (I got mine at Trader Joes). The fermentation mellows the bite raw garlic has, much like roasting. This recipe is so good the way it is though, I saw no need to fuss too much with changing it.
So goes the evolution of recipes. Given to me, I pass to you and hopefully you will like it and pay it forward. One of my pet peeves is people who won’t share, saying, “it’s a secret family recipe.” I would venture to say a great majority of these secrets are really not original but have come from a cookbook, magazine or some other source. So give it up! I found out my grandmother’s famous pie crust came from the back of the Crisco can. No joke. She wouldn’t cough it up but finally it came out. Really?
I leave with some words of encouragement, daylight savings time starts next week, Spring officially starts in 16 days (March 20th), Winter cannot last forever. Meanwhile stay cozy and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Sending warm hugs and love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne