As addressed in my previous post (which I’m sure everyone has read since you, fair reader, want to scoop up my every word) my husband and I have been following a (slightly modified, dairy friendly) Paleo diet. Essentially, we eat fruit, veggies and proteins, and have cut out simple carbs like pasta, potatoes, white rice, bread and processed foods. Cooking in the Paleo lifestyle hasn’t really been a challenge, since there are so many AMAZING recipes that don’t require the bad things, and we love protein, especially meat.
The other evening, I made a LOVELY Thai Chicken Soup, the base recipe from which I got from America’s Test Kitchen. To find the original recipe, you can click on the phrase “America’s Test Kitchen” to the left, OR, you can buy the wonderful book, America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution. The book is very much worth the price of admission, as it has MANY wonderful recipes that are just plain delicious. As with all recipes, I slightly modified this one to suit my own tastes and preferences and needs.
If you’re looking for a filling, but not too hearty, soup with lovely Thai flavors that won’t burn your nose hairs out, I highly suggest giving this one a whirl. I made it in the slow cooker, but did start the chicken cooking in a skillet. I will give instructions for both the “quick prep” and the slow cooker way.
2 Small Onions, minced
6 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (we store our fresh ginger in the freezer and I just pulled it out and grated it frozen)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used my homemade chicken stock) (4 cups = 24 ounces)
2 14-ounce cans of coconut milk (I actually use boxed coconut milk from Whole Foods as opposed to the canned Thai Style brand, for no reason other than we use a lot of coconut milk in our house and I buy it in bulk)
2 stalks Lemon Grass (just save yourself the time and go to Whole Foods to get it, as I couldn’t find it anywhere else in Chicago) You only want the bottom 5 inches of the lemon grass, rinsed. To prep the lemon grass and release its wonderful flavor, using the back of your chef’s knife, create indentations in the stalks about 1 inch apart (do not CUT them, just create bruised indentations)
2 Medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (you can find this in any Asian aisle at the grocery store.)
10 Cilantro stems, tied together with twine
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
Juice from 2 limes
2 Teaspoons Thai red curry Paste
1. Turn your slow cooker on to high. I always turn mine on before I start doing the food prep, so that it’s ready to actually start cooking once my ingredients are ready.
2. Grab your food processor and combine the onions (halved) and garlic and pulse it until they are in small, small pieces. (This was a much faster prospect for me than hand mincing everything, especially when I needed to get the soup going in the slow cooker if I had any hope of serving it for dinner the night I made it).
3. After you’ve food processed your onions and garlic, toss them into a medium sized glass bowl that is microwave safe, add the ginger and the olive oil. Microwave for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are softened, stopping approximately each minute to stir the mixture. When done microwaving, throw these ingredients in the slow cooker.
4. Add the following to the slow cooker after tossing in the onions/garlic/ginger — all the chicken broth, 1 can (or 14 ounces) of coconut milk, 1 Tablespoon of the fish sauce and the cilantro stems. Stir around a bit so it’s all mixed together and then put the lid on. You’re going to prep the chicken now.
5(a). *Fast-Cook Chicken Prep* — Time was an issue for me the day I made this recipe, so I needed to get the chicken on it’s way to being cooked BEFORE I put it in the slow cooker. Here’s how I did that. Got my trusty skillet out and put in 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil and heated it up on medium-high heat. Make sure your olive oil coats the entire bottom of the pan. While the pan is heating, salt and pepper both sides of your chicken thighs. You can add additional seasonings to your personal taste. Once the pan is ready, lay the chicken thighs into the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. This will lightly brown the exterior of the chicken and start it cooking so that it only has to finish in the slow cooker. ONLY 2 MINUTES PER SIDE. The chicken will still be visibly pink inside. It doesn’t matter. It WILL finish cooking in the slow cooker. Due to the size of my pan, I had to cook the chicken in 2 batches. No biggie. Once the first batch is done, remove from the skillet and put on a plate while you’re cooking the remaining chicken. Once all the chicken has been cooked, 2 minutes each side, put it into the slow cooker and make sure it is submerged into the soup. It will finish cooking in there. If you’re like me and you love all the little bits of chicken that got stuck to the bottom of your skillet and think they add flavor, you can do a quick deglaze of the pan using either 1/4 cup water or chicken broth, boil on a high heat until the pan is deglazed and then add that minimal liquid to your soup. I did that, and the soup was still delish. Cook the soup mixture, with chicken, for 4 hours on high, or 6 hours on low.
5(b) *I’ve Got All Day Chicken Prep* — If time isn’t an issue for you on the preparation of this soup, after step 4, just salt and pepper your chicken thighs and toss them in the slow cooker, making sure they’re submerged in the soup. Cook the soup mixture, with chicken, for 4 hours on high, or 6 hours on low.
6. After 4-6 hours of cooking time, and some excellent smells from your soup, grab a slotted spoon and a cutting board. Remove the chicken from the mixture and place onto a cutting board. Let it cook for a few minutes and then you’ll be cutting it into bite-sized pieces. At this point, my chicken was so tender it pretty much cut with just a fork.
7. While your chicken is cooling on the cutting board, add the mushrooms to the soup and keep the soup cooking on low.
8. In a microwave safe glass bowl (I used the same bowl from earlier), microwave the remaining 14 ounces of coconut milk (approximately 2-3 minutes depending on the power of your microwave). Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of fish sauce, the lime juice, and the curry paste. Whisk gently, just enough to combine everything and have the curry paste dissolve. Your mixture will be a beautiful orange hue now. Add to the slow cooker and stir it in.
9. After cutting your chicken up, add it back to the slow cooker and let everything cook about 30 minutes more. You want the mushrooms to be tender but not falling apart, and to have had everything combine together beautifully to be hot.
10. Using tongs, remove the 2 stalks of lemon grass and the cilantro stems and toss in the trash.
11. Serve the soup in the bowl of your choice. If you so desire, you can garnish the soup with fresh cilantro leaves (that’s what I did), scallions, or lime wedges or peppers. All to your taste!
Leftovers Note –> This recipe is going to create leftovers, unless you’re cooking for a small army. I refrigerated the leftovers in standard Ziploc tupperware and the soup reheated beautifully the following 3 days.
Pictures Note –> I LOVE pictures on cooking blogs, not only because it’s food porn to me, but because I like to see how things should look when I’m trying to replicate the recipe. My camera was charging and I forgot to take pictures of this soup, but starting with my next recipe (Pork Chops with faux Onion Jam) there will be lots of pictures as we go along. Yay!