Coconut Curry Soup with Roasted Salmon

Oh the weather outside is frightful (OK, not so much in California), and the chill in the air (mainly because we don’t have the best insulation in California houses) means it’s time to cook warm soups to help warm the body.  When cooking for two, soup is an effective way to make lunches for the week.  A pot of soup equals 6-7 meals, all that’s needed is really good Tupperware to make sure it doesn’t spill while commuting.

Another reason to love soup is it’s incredible capacity to use up leftover or past their prime vegetables.  Soups are endlessly adaptable given what’s in the fridge or taste preferences.  The soups I make are quick, between 20 and 40 minutes to prepare.  This soup is Thai inspired.  It looks like a sunset with its  pinkish-orange color from the mix of coconut milk and chicken broth.  Instead of adding in the salmon to cook in the soup (a possible variation), I roasted the salmon separate in order for the soup base to maintain its unique Thai curry-coconut flavor.  This method allows the soup and the salmon to remain two distinct but complementing flavors.

Here are the ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen
1 14-ounce box low-sodium chicken broth
1 13 or 14-ounce can low-fat coconut milk
3 small potatoes, peeled, and diced
1 pound fresh salmon sprinkled with salt pepper, and 1 teaspoon olive oil
fresh lime wedges and chopped fresh parsley (not pictured)
In addition to the parsley I forgot to photograph 3 small peeled and diced potatoes.
First saute the aromatics (onions, poblano pepper, celery, and garlic) in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Instead of a classic Latin sofrito where I’d usually add tomato paste or sauce, I used Thai Red Chili Paste, a fun ingredient to have on hand for easy Thai flavor without the fuss of finding and figuring out ways to use items I’m not familiar with.
Then add the liquids, chicken broth and coconut milk.  The color of the soup will look like a sunset, pinkish-orange.
Also add the diced potatoes.  Bring the soup up to a boil, then lower the heat to allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes or so, enough time to roast up some fresh salmon.
Whenever I’m cooking for two, I prefer to use the toaster oven for small baking needs since it’s a manageable size and doesn’t need more than a minute or two to preheat.  I lined a mini baking sheet with tin foil for very easy clean up, and sprinkled salt, pepper, and a little olive oil on top of the fish.  Salmon’s a fish with more oil than others, so it doesn’t need a lot.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the fish is flaky and pink.  Don’t you love those close up sizzling bubbles?
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with chunks of roasted salmon and chopped fresh parsley.  Squeeze half of a lime on top of each bowl for added flavor.  Add a bowl of fresh salad and you’ve got yourself one tasty soup and salad combo.
Buen Provecho!

Easy, Versatile Chicken Tortilla Soup

Soups are forgiving.  They need a minimum base, but the rest is flexible, depending on what’s in your pantry.  Soups, like casseroles, are the best way to use up leftovers.

I made this recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup for some friends who came over to help us with our No-Front-Lawn Project.  They assisted with hauling, shoveling, and more hauling, and more shoveling.  My arms and shoulders were quite sore.

This is a fast, easy, versatile recipe that’s hearty and quite fast, ideal for a long day working out in the yard.

Printable recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup-1

Ingredients: 1/2 rotisserie chicken, 1 32-ounce box chicken broth, 1 14-ounce can black beans, 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 4-ounce can green chilies, 1 large onion, 2 small zucchinis, 4 garlic cloves, 1 large red bell pepper, 3 small carrots, corn tostadas or corn tortillas.

There are lots of substitutions for this soup, all depending on your taste and cupboard.  The minimum base is onion, garlic, spices, broth, chicken, diced tomatoes, and tortillas.

-Any canned bean could switch with the black beans. I imagine pinto or kidney would be the best.

-The total for my vegetables (carrots and zucchini) was about 2 cups, which could easily be another mix of veggies like celery, corn, fresh tomatoes, other squash, etc.  Just be aware of which vegetables, like carrots, need to cook longer, and which, like zucchini, barely need any cooking

-Instead of tostadas use fresh corn tortillas cut in strips or crushed tortilla chips

-Rotisserie chicken has 2 bonuses; it’s cooked already and has great flavor, making this recipe extremely fast, but you could also cook 2-3 chicken breasts beforehand then shred it.

I’m sorry, I forgot to get step-by-step photos because my mind was thinking about the yard, not what I was cooking.  Here’s the process.  It’s easy, half the soup is fresh veggies, the other half canned staples, plus already cooked chicken.

  1. In a large soup pot, heat up about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Add diced onions and red bell pepper, and sauté 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add diced carrots, and continue sautéing another 3 minutes.
  3. Add minced garlic, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Stir so all the vegetables get coated with spice.
  4. Shake chicken broth and pour in the whole box.
  5. Add entire can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.
  6. Drain beans in sink; add them to the soup.
  7. Dice up chili peppers and add to soup.  Turn heat up to high to bring it to a boil.  Then lower to medium-high.
  8. Shred the rotisserie chicken by pulling it into strips about the size your pinky or smaller.  Add to soup.  Let everything simmer together for about 20-30 minutes.
  9. During the last ten minutes, add zucchini to cook.  If needed, add in more chicken broth to your desired consistency.
  10. To serve, fill each bowl with soup and top with crumbled tostada, grated cheese, and any other toppings you have around (avocado, green onions, red onions, cilantro, fresh tomatoes, sour cream, etc).

and here’s the delicious finished soup.