Coconut Curry Soup

When I feel under the weather, the #1 thing I want is the coconut tofu soup from our favorite local Thai place.  It is velvety and warms you up with just the right amount of back-of-the-throat heat, and I want it in a bad way.  Like a "sip it through straws on my beer helmet" kind of way. Point of interest, however: I have thus far lived my life sans beer helmet.

I've recreated the soup at home, but over time it's transformed into a whole other animal in our kitchen. Instead of a light broth, the changes yield a fairly hearty bowl that, according to my boys, earn it credit as a full meal.

Here we go...

Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
olive oil
kosher salt
4 tablespoons curry paste (I tend to use red more often than green for this)
fish sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 pint mushrooms, sliced (I use the "baby bella" ones - I haven't gotten adventurous with mushrooms yet)
3 cans light coconut milk
6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional - we like sweet heat)

Preheat oven to 425. Drop the chicken thighs into a ziplock bag, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a generous pinch of kosher salt, and toss in the Chinese five spice powder. Zip up the bag and smush it around until the chicken is evenly coated. Place the thighs on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil, and bake until they're golden brown around the edges. Cool, chop into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.  In a large pot, heat a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the green onions, yellow onion, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add in the mushrooms and give them a minute to get tender, then add the curry paste and continue stirring. Add a splash of fish sauce and cook for another minute or so. If you're new to using fish sauce, don't worry - the funky smell of this stuff will cook off and leave some seriously deep flavor behind. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat back to medium. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly and to bring all the flavors together. Test for seasoning, and add salt to taste if needed. Ladle into bowls, and serve.

Note: I have also stretched a pot of this into many more meals by spooning it over steamed rice.