Thursday, May 6, 2010

Red Curry Soup with Rice Stick Noodles

I am sitting here in our screened-in porch, typing on my laptop, because the weather is awfully hot and humid for early May. And typical for spring weather here, the highs this weekend are expected to be only in the mid-50’s. Ping-pong weather.

Late this morning I went out for a run and, with sensory delights surrounding me, I went further than anticipated because it was just so lovely to be outside. Wild honeysuckle is blooming in the fields and the air is heavy with that delicious, sweet scent which was intensified with today’s warmth. The colors of spring are so vibrant they almost hurt my eyes to look at them, especially all of the newly-leafed trees wearing their light green foliage (and the white honeysuckle blossoms, and the pink honeysuckle, and the purple-leaf plum trees in our yard, and the bright crimson new growth on the pieris—it’s a color-wheel around here!). The sun is out, the sky is a bright blue, and only my aching back finally forced me to stop and come in. I love spring. I love, love, love spring!

And, really, I love any form of exercise which I enjoy so much that I actually look forward to doing it. During the entire month of April, my runs were sporadic. And I was grumpy (well, perhaps not running wasn’t the only reason for that!). Now I am going out regularly and I feel so much better. Those endorphins are pumpin’ along, making life in this household a happy one, indeed!

It’s difficult to do so today, but I now have to reach back to two whole weeks ago, to when it was chilly and rainy. And for lunch I made a wonderful soup to warm us.

From the recent issue of Cuisine At Home, Red Curry Soup with Rice Stick Noodles was a winner. We both enjoy the flavor and heat of curry, and this soup certainly fit the bill on that particular day. Delicious!

I made a few changes. Because I didn’t have green pepper, I used red bell pepper. To up the veggies, I added chopped baby spinach. And I also added some minced garlic and used some chicken stock I had on hand in place of half of the water.

The recipe calls for coconut milk and, well, we just don’t do the full-fat coconut milk for obvious reasons. I subbed about half of the amount of light coconut milk, and the remaining was skim milk. This kept a rather “creamy” texture while keeping the fat count low. Of course, if you do this it is necessary to add a “coconut punch” by stirring in some coconut extract at the end (because the flavor of extracts tend to cook away if added too soon in the recipe).

Using a nonstick pan and only 2 teaspoons of oil, plus the changes to the coconut milk as described above, netted a decrease in fat from 25 to 8 grams per serving an, more importantly, a decrease from 19 to 3 grams of saturated fat.

These changes are noted below in bold italic:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Red Curry Soup with Rice Stick Noodles

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home

Servings : 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves -- cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon canola oil (2 teaspoons)

1 cup water

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup coconut milk (1/2 cup light coconut milk)

2/3 cup skim milk

3 teaspoons red curry paste

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 cup green bell pepper -- very thinly slices (used red bell)

3 ounces chopped fresh spinach

2 ounces rice stick noodles – broken (I used 3 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1 small lime -- cut into wedges (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro -- (optional)

Season chicken pieces with s&p.

Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken to the pan and sauté until browned, 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, stir for 30 seconds.

Add water and coconut milk, bring to a boil. In a small cup, mis the curry paste and about 2 tablespoons of water. Add the curry paste slowly to the soup, stirring well to incorporate, and tasting occasionally (because this stuff is spicy!). Stir in fish sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes.

Add bell pepper, spinach, and noodles and turn up the heat a bit to bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook, stirring, frequently, until the noodles are softened, 3-4 minutes.

Serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro, if desired.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 373 Calories (kcal); 25g Total Fat (19g saturated); 23g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 49mg Cholesterol; 513mg Sodium

Nutritional values using my options:

Per serving: 198 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat (3g saturated); (32% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 51mg Cholesterol; 121mg Sodium

And a free preparation tip! :)

Place the rice noodles in a large plastic bag, close it, then break the noodles into pieces. WAY less of a mess to clean up afterward!