I've been asked what inspires some of my more outlandish recipes. To be honest - inspiration is all around me, from a cooking segment on morning tv (coffee time!), to a photograph in a magazine at the dentist's office. Sometimes I start to formulate recipes in my head weeks in advance of preparing the intended dish.
Some say procrastination, I like to think of it as patience!
Months ago, I was hearing a lot in the news media and through friends about the nutritional value of coconut milk. I looked into it and discovered coconut milk is produced by squeezing the actual meat of the coconut through cheesecloth, and then boiling it down (not to be confused with the coconut water that comes out of the middle of the coconut.) It can be purchased in the U.S. canned, and is used primarily in Asian and Brazilian cooking.
There are so many health benefits associated with coconut milk. For instance, it has antimicrobial properties, which aids with gastrointestinal issues, and the saturated fat in coconut milk is mostly lauric acid, which is good for cardiovascular health. With this in mind, I went right out and bought a can of the stuff, put it away in the pantry, and thought about it for a while.
That was in January.
More recently, kale has come to the forefront, with everybody and their mother singing its nutritional and antioxident praises. For sure, kale is said to be one of the healthiest vegetables around, and here I thought it was merely an autumnal decoration!
I thought back to that lonely can of coconut milk, and began to wonder how I might combine the two super ingredients, coconut milk and kale, to come up with one fabulous recipe.
A quick trip to the International Foods aisle at Market Basket for some authentic Asian ingredients, and a stop by Danvers Fresh Marketplace for produce, and I was in business. I should call this recipe The Best Experiment Ever, but we’ll have to settle for Thai Inspired Coconut and Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Tofu. Enjoy!
Thai Inspired Coconut and Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Tofu
32 oz. Chicken Broth (low sodium)
2 cans coconut milk
1 c. green onions, chopped
1 T. sesame oil
1 tsp. garlic
2 tsp. chili paste
1 T. freshly grated ginger (1 inch of fresh, peeled ginger root)
2 c. leeks
1 c. chopped carrots
4 c. kale, chopped
4 c. bok choy, chopped
2 c. shitake mushrooms (1 package)
½ c. lime juice (3 limes, juiced)
½ c. freshly chopped cilantro
1 tsp. rice vinegar
2 T. fish sauce
1 T. soy sauce (low sodium)
¼ c. peapods
1 package tofu, chopped into 1 inch squares
2 c. cooked chicken, cut into 1 inch bite-sized pieces
* Heat garlic in oil, add chili paste and green onion-stir to combine. Once heated through, about five minutes, add carrots, leeks, ginger and saute for an additional five minutes. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, cilantro and the rest of the vegetables and raise heat to high to bring to a boil, and boil for 10-15 minutes. Reduce to a simmer, add tofu and chicken and simmer for ten minutes. Serve with chopped green onions as a garnish.