Many of us look at January as the perfect time to start eating healthier. We just ate our way through December and we’re feeling a little overstuffed. I don’t know about the rest of you, but after Christmas and all the treats I indulged myself in I’m ready for some healthy, nourishing meals to start the New Year off right. It is also extremely cold outside right now, so nothing sounds better to me than a bowl of piping hot soup.
This soup is inspired by the flavors of Thailand. While not an authentic Thai recipe, it is somewhat a cross between Tom Ka Gai soup and Thai Yellow Curry. We all celebrate chicken noodle soup for its health benefits, but it has nothing on this nourishing soup. To begin with, the rainbow of vegetables provides a variety of essential nutrients that help keep the body healthy. Bone broth is known to be very healing because of the minerals it contains, and it supports immune function and strength. Coconut milk contains a variety of minerals and can help reduce inflammation in the body. It is also anti-bacterial, so it may help fight off illness. During this time of year when colds and flu are rampant, I can’t think of a better or tastier way to stay healthy!
There are a couple of ingredients I need to draw your attention to before we begin: Thai yellow curry paste and kaffir lime leaves. I like to keep recipes simple, but occasionally it’s necessary to expand our horizons a bit. I like to order the Mae Ploy brand of Thai yellow curry paste from Amazon. It contains good quality whole ingredients and nothing objectionable. Occasionally you can find yellow curry paste in one of our local Asian markets, but I’ve yet to see it at the supermarket. Kaffir lime leaves are easy to find frozen at nearly any Asian market. They are very inexpensive and last a long time in the freezer. I recommend shopping locally for your kaffir lime leaves. It’s fun to explore other cuisines and you may find more foods you’d like to try. If time is an issue, you can order dried kaffir lime leaves on Amazon when you order your curry paste, but they are considerably more expensive than in the local markets. You can decide based on your budget and your schedule what works best for you.
Butternut squash can also be a bit overwhelming to work with. I’ve seen it at several grocery stores already peeled and diced, but if you can’t find it already prepped for you and don’t want to tackle a whole one, then carrots will substitute well.
This soup is actually fairly quick and easy to prepare. This recipe also makes a large batch, so unless you are feeding a crowd, you’ll probably be able to freeze half and have another meal ready for you later. I cook for a five-year-old, so I err on the mild side, but if you’d like a bit of a kick, throw in a couple crushed Thai Birdseye chilies or some crushed red pepper flakes when you are sautéing the onions and curry paste.
Thai Curry Chicken Soup
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste
- 1-2 crushed Thai Birdseye chilies or 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ lbs chicken, diced
- 8 cups chicken bone broth
- 2 cups butternut squash, diced
- 5-6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 cans coconut milk
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, minced
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and sauté onions until they begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add curry paste and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. If you’re using chilies, you can add them now. Add garlic cloves and diced chicken and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes, until chicken begins to brown slightly.
Carefully pour in the bone broth and add the butternut squash and kaffir lime leaves. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat and allow it to simmer until the butternut squash begins to soften. At this point, add the bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and coconut milk and stir to combine all the ingredients. Once chicken is cooked through and all vegetables are tender but not mushy, add salt to taste and stir in cilantro. I love cilantro so I toss in the whole bunch, but you can add as much or as little as you’d like. It’s easy to add more to each bowl individually also.
This soup freezes well. It will separate, but it reheats beautifully on the stovetop with a little stirring. Be sure to leave enough room in your container to allow for liquid expansion so that you don’t find a mess later.
This soup is gluten and dairy free. I’m pretty certain it meets the criteria for a Paleo diet (just check your curry paste label), and it can easily be made vegetarian if you leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken bone broth. I love this nourishing soup and I’m so excited to share it. Stay warm out there!