I have always been a big fan of internationally-inspired cooking. The various cuisines of Asia, aside from being exotically delicious, lend themselves particularly well to quick weeknight meals. Fortunately, it is not at all difficult to find Asian specialty ingredients in Paris, making these some of the easier non-French cuisines for me to replicate at home. Last night, despite the lovely mint tea respite, I still didn’t feel like cooking up a storm. Considering what I had in the fridge (Thai red curry paste, lemongrass, chicken stock) and the pantry (Thai rice noodles, coconut milk, shallots), I decided a Thai-style chicken soup was in order. Cilantro, broccoli and chicken breasts were procured on the way home, and Nick even did the necessary chopping and peeling for me.
I started by sautéeing chopped lemongrass, shallots, and cilantro in peanut oil. I seasoned the mixture with a little fish sauce and dumped in a block of frozen chicken stock and a can of coconut milk.
But wait, there’s more…
I let this simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, then strained it into another pot and whisked in about 3 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste (we like our food spicy). I added about a cup of water and once the soup was simmering again, I poured in the broccoli.
I let it steam for a couple of minutes with the lid on, but in retrospect I wish I hadn’t. (The broccoli was a little overdone by the time the soup was ready to eat.) I added the chicken, sliced into thin pieces for fast cooking, and again covered the pot and let it simmer. When the chicken was done, I threw in some rice noodles, turned off the heat, and let them soak. About 5 minutes later, they were perfect. I finished the soup with a squeeze of lime juice and another dash of fish sauce, and served it garnished with cilantro, tiny strips of scotch bonnet pepper, and lime wedges.
Note: This photo is not doctored – the peppers really are that red! And sadly, the broccoli really was that shade of less-than-vibrant. At least the cilantro showed up with some contrast!
Overcooked broccoli notwithstanding, the soup tasted great. Spicy and flavorful without being heavy, and it only took about half an hour to make. That’s my kind of busy weeknight dinner.