Cold Medicine

This has been the winter of the colds. My son and I are currently fighting off Round Four or Five, and it was the most miserable iteration yet; in fact, little Nolan got his very first ear infection on Thursday night, and we have to stuff him full of pink goo twice a day. All that means that we have been in need of some serious nourishment, and what better vehicle for that than a nice warm bowl of chicken soup? I’ve been a little coconut-crazy in the past few weeks, so my instinct was to look for recipes involving both my homemade chicken bone broth and coconut milk, and this Thai-style curried chicken-coconut soup with spinach fit the bill perfectly. When I say “perfectly,” I mean with a few little tweaks, of course…

The original recipe called for pressure-cooking bone-in chicken thighs to get both enriched broth and meat. I always have gallons of my homemade crock-pot stock on hand, and had just made a fresh batch the night before, after carving up a chicken carcass to use the breasts for orange chicken; the thighs and drumsticks still needed using up, and were perfect in this soup. Ladling about a quart of stock into my soup pot, I added the coconut milk, curry powder, garlic, some dried lemongrass, raw sugar, fish sauce, chili flakes, and strips of dried ginger and lemon zest. The chicken parts poached gently in this aromatic liquid until they were cooked through and shreddable, and then went right back in with a handful of baby spinach, some chives, and a squirt of lime juice to finish it off. To make the soup a more filling meal, I served it up with a scoop of handily leftover rice, and it worked wonders on my stuffy nose. Nolan stuck with plain chicken and rice, lightly drizzled with broth.

Curried Chicken-Coconut Soup with Spinach

4 C chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, preferably full-fat
3/4 C chopped green onions, optional
2 1/2 T curry powder (I used closer to 1 T of this curry powder)
1 1/2 T minced fresh lemongrass, from about 4 stalks (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T minced peeled fresh ginger, or 2 large sliced dried
1 tsp fresh lemon zest (or dehydrated, either minced or whole)
1 T minced garlic
1 T raw sugar, such as Sucanat
1 tsp fish sauce, or to taste
1 pinch crushed red pepper
4 large bone-in chicken pieces (I used thighs and drumsticks)

1 6-ounce package baby spinach leaves
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T minced scallion or chives
3/4 C cooked rice per serving

Combine ingredients from broth to crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer over medium low heat; add chicken and cook about 20 minutes, until cooked through and tender. Transfer chicken to work surface; cool briefly (fish out the lemon zest and ginger strips here, if using). Remove bones and cut or shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Return chicken to soup; add spinach. Simmer until spinach wilts, about 1 minute. Add lime juice and scallions or chives. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Press a serving of rice into a cup or ramekin and upend into a shallow bowl, and ladle soup around it. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro if you go for those sorts of shenanigans, and be sure to breathe in deeply through your nose!

Source: Adapted from Epicurious.

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