Spicy Coconut Chicken and Rice Soup

Nothing comforts the body and spirit like a steaming bowl of homemade soup on a cold, rainy day. I love soup anytime of year, but when the chilly damp of fall hits, and I am simultaneously plagued with a cold, soup’s appeal multiplies. Greg and I both developed colds last week so yesterday I decided it was time to cook up some healing stock and turn it into soup.

Soup is a very flexible dish and I enjoy the freedom of making some decisions as I go along. I started with a general idea of what I was going to do, based on ingredients I already had on hand. I biked over to New Seasons to pick up some missing items, including chicken legs for the broth and soup, and then spent the next couple of hours in the kitchen. It was worth it. When I sat down to dinner and smelled the earthy, sweet, and spice aromas of my hot soup, I was well rewarded. The sweetness of the rice and coconut milk were the perfect accompaniment to the salty stock, the spicy peppers, and the earthy leeks. I am looking forward to eating this all week!

Sometimes I already have homemade stock or broth on hand, but yesterday I didn’t, so the process started with making some of that. The recipe is divided into two parts, the first for making the broth, the second for the soup. If you have homemade stock on hand, feel free to skip part one. But make sure you use real broth or stock, especially if you are fighting a cold. There is no replacement.

PART 1 – BROTH/STOCK

Ingredients:

3 chicken legs with skin on (that includes the thigh)

1/2 an onion

a few cloves garlic

1 stalk chopped celery

about 1/2 cup frozen vegetable scraps if you have any (I save them for making veggie stock)

salt (1 tbsp)

Directions: Add all the ingredients to a large stock pot (mine is 2 gallons). Add about 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for about an hour.

Strain broth into a large bowl. Set chicken aside to cool before pulling all meat off into a separate bowl. Make sure to set aside a comforting cup of broth to enjoy as a healthy beverage while preparing the soup.

PART 2 – SOUP

Ingredients: (please note that all measurements are approximations)

coconut oil –  2 tbsp

2-3 quarts broth or stock

10 garlic cloves

fresh ginger, minced – 2 tbsp

4 Serrano chilis

3 jalapeños

1 1/2 onions

2 leeks

3 celery ribs

4 tsp freshly ground coriander

dried basil – 1 tbsp

Coconut cream/milk 1 can

1 1/3 cups jasmine rice

Limes

1. Mince 1/2 an onion, 1 celery rib, 1 Serrano chili, and 2 garlic cloves. Set aside in a bowl with the ginger.

2. Dice/chop the remaining celery, onions, and jalapeños. Slice the Serrano chilis and the leeks. Set all these aside in a large bowl.

3. On medium, heat the oil in the bottom of a large stockpot.

4. Once oil is hot, add the items from step one to the pot. Saute until well softened.

5. Add the items from step 2 to the pot and season with salt. Let cook until soft, stirring often. Do not allow the food to brown.

6. Pour in the stock or broth. Bring to a simmer. Add the coriander and basil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt and add more as needed.

7. Add the rice to the pot. Keep it at a strong simmer until the rice is done. I think this took about 15 minutes.

8. Pour in the coconut milk and add the chicken meat. Simmer gently for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Turn off heat, squeeze in the juice of 1 lime. Serve with quartered limes and red pepper flakes as optional garnishes at the table.