Soup for the blizzard that wasn’t

Earlier this week, the denizens of New York City were warned that a blizzard of historic proportions was on its way. Like everyone else, I stocked up on enough food to keep us going for a few days if we couldn’t get out of the house, including the ingredients for this soup. Rob had been feeling a little under the weather, so I’d been thinking about making a pot of chicken soup anyway. I figured I’d deviate from my standard formula and add a healthy dose of ginger and leave out the dairy I generally add. Plus, a good dose of heat is always good for a cold. All of this got me thinking along the lines of Thai chicken coconut soup tom kha kai. This is sort of a simplified, Americanized version, the kind of thing you can make with ingredients from whatever downmarket grocery store has the shortest lines the day before the blizzard that’ll kill us all, especially if you keep decent-quality chicken thighs in your freezer.

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The “blizzard” ended up not being much more than a decent snowstorm (6-8″ or so), but this soup is a keeper. It came together very quickly and is one of the tastier things I’ve made in a long time.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Soup
feeds two for dinner with leftovers for the next day’s lunch

1 onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 jalepeno pepper
1 hunk of ginger roughly the size of your palm
1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
1.5 lbs. chicken thighs
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. peeled, chopped carrots
juice and zest of 2 limes
1 can coconut milk
Cooked rice

Put the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno in a food processor and pulse until you have a uniform puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Heat a bit of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the puree, along with a teaspoon or so of salt. Cook, stirring regularly for a few minutes. Add soy sauce and mushrooms and continue to stir until the mushrooms soften a bit. Add the chicken, chicken broth, and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for half an hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Take the chicken out and shred or chop roughly. Add the chicken back to the pot, along with the lime juice and zest and coconut milk. Heat through and serve over rice.

 

Late winter supper: spicy pork and mustard greens soup

This is an easy and tasty one that’s perfect for these waning days of winter: still warming and spicy and filling, but packed with the kind of flavorful, nutrient-dense greens that will be shooting up soon.

Other than not grinding the spices myself, I followed Bon Appetit’s recipe more or less to the letter. It’s fast, tasty, and a perfect balance between indulgent and healthful. It’s a keeper.

Potato-Leek Soup with Kale and Sausage

This was more of a clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer effort than anything else, but it turned out pretty well. I had gotten some leeks in my CSA share that I wanted to use up and had three potatoes I’d bought to make gnocchi that I was happy to surrender to the cause. The potatoes got me thinking about colcannon, the hearty, filling Irish dish of potatoes and cabbage. I didn’t have any cabbage on hand, but did have some kale that was starting to go brown around the edges. When I opened the freezer to take out my last quart of chicken stock, I noticed three links of hot Italian sausage that had been in there probably longer than was ideal and pulled them out too. I didn’t have any soup-friendly cheese, but since I was using the sausage, I didn’t think it would need it anyway.

Once everything had defrosted, I browned the sausages in a little olive oil while I chopped the leeks. Sausages out, leeks, salt, and another drizzle of olive oil in while I peeled and chopped the potatoes. They went in the pot to cook a little on their own with some more salt before the stock went in, though I don’t know that that step really added much. I had enough stock to cover it all by an inch or two, so didn’t need to top it off with water or milk, though that had been the plan, more or less. When the potatoes were tender, I gave everything a rough mash with a potato masher and added the chopped kale and the sausages, which I’d halved lengthwise and then sliced.

All said, a perfectly tasty and serviceable dish. It’s pretty soupy in the photo, but it thickened and turned into more of a stew after a night in the fridge. The Italian sausage was a little weird, flavor-wise (would have preferred kielbasa) and there was too much of it. The next batch of potato-leek soup I make — and there will be more; got another bundle of leeks in this week’s CSA share — I’ll leave out the meat and add a little cheese and some more veg.