Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup with Red Curry

My favorite soup in the whole wide world is probably the one served at my favorite Asian restaurant in town. It is so spicy, warm, and comforting - a bit creamy from the coconut milk, spicy from the red curry paste, and full of delicious rice noodles and thinly sliced chicken. It is served topped with a cilantro bouquet garnish and is everything I need to feel satisfied.

While we have been struggling with illness over the past month, I have been craving this soup. Paul ended up taking me out to lunch just so I could have it and I swear that it cleared my sinuses and helped spur my body towards a full recovery. Since I love this soup so much, I figured I should probably take a shot at recreating it at home.

On a completely unrelated note, these two have been so cute hanging out together.

Reading before bedtime.

An intense art session in progress.

The soup itself is really simple - it has red curry paste, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, thin rice noodles, chicken broth (I think), chicken and cilantro. That's pretty much it.

The biggest problem was finding a red curry paste that was spicy enough. The only one available from our local grocery store was the Thai Kitchen brand - and, while tasty, it is not spicy at all. Since it was all they had, I had to use it this time around but I still highly recommend the Mae Ploy brand of curry paste (both green and red). You can order it on Amazon and it is extremely inexpensive.

Anyway, with a spicier curry paste I feel this recipe would have been perfection. It was still delicious and Paul actually liked that it wasn't nearly as spicy as the restaurant's version (although I certainly missed it!). If you like Thai flavors, this is a great soup for you - and it comes together in about 20 minutes!

I like my bowl of soup with a lot of broth (as pictured above) whereas Paul prefers a high amount of noodles (as pictured below!). We also threw a few chopped red chili peppers on top - I told you, I really am liking the heat right now!

Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup with Red Curry

Note: Add the amount of curry paste suitable for your preferences. Some people can stand the heat well enough, while others might find it overwhelming. This will also depend on the type of curry paste you use since they are wildly different in heat levels. You can always add more once the broth is simmering if you feel you need more heat. Also, to get your chicken breasts to slice evenly, I usually stick them in the freezer for about 20 minutes so they "stiffen" just a bit. The slices will look prettier if they are a little bit frozen.

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3-4 tablespoons red curry paste (see note above)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
2-3 cups coconut milk (I like two; Paul prefers three)
6-8 ounces thin rice noodles (sometimes called rice sticks)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, thinly sliced

Combine the garlic, ginger, curry paste, and oil in a dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium and cook, mashing together with a wooden spoon or spatula, until sizzling and very fragrant. Add the chicken broth, scraping the bottom with a spoon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and taste the broth. Add more salt/curry paste if desired. Add the chicken pieces and simmer gently until cooked all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and rice noodles and allow to simmer very gently while the noodles soak up the broth - about 15 minutes.

Serve in large bowls topped with lots of fresh cilantro!

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