National Curried Chicken Day

Skip the takeout and make your own chicken curry

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My commute home from work is dangerous — for my wallet.

I know January brings good intentions from all of us, especially regarding food and those New Year's resolutions. When it comes to eating healthy, I'm usually pretty good. But so many times my inclination after a long day at work is to just forget cooking and those cabinets packed with food. As it happens, I have to drive right past a couple of my favorite Indian and Thai places on my way home (and since no stop is complete without a couple of orders of starters and bread, and the ever present rice pudding, it can get a little pricey.) So this January, I resolve to use what I have, and resist food laziness.

This recipe for Thai chicken curry soup ticks more than a couple of boxes — not only is it good enough that I can drive right past my favorite takeout spots without giving up my spicy food addiction, it's easy and fast too — doubling the likelihood that I won't just give in.

And I love to make soups. The recipes are so forgiving: I pretty much always have a tube of ready-to-go grated ginger that you can pick up in the produce section if you're too lazy to grate your own. But even when you run out, grab some powdered ginger from the spice drawer. Or bouillon instead of fresh broth in a pinch, egg noodles if you don't have rice noodles, or make a side of rice; it just goes on. Rather sadly, the first time I made this recipe it turned out I didn't have a lime, only an expired bottle of lime juice in the bar — it did the job.

If you're like me, you don't have precooked chicken lying around. I usually just grab a few tenders and cook them in the dutch oven before I get started, then continue as usual.

This recipe is also a great way to celebrate National Curried Chicken Day on Saturday. Who knew? (It's also National Glazed Doughnut Day ... but, well, let's remind ourselves of our plan to start the year off right.)

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For those who aren't familiar with chicken curry, it originated from the Indian subcontinent and is also a common dish in Southeast Asia, as well as in the Caribbean (where it is usually referred to as curry chicken). A typical curry from India features chicken stewed in an onion- and tomato-based sauce, flavored with ginger, garlic, tomato puree, chili peppers and a variety of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and garam masala. Outside Southeastern Asia, chicken curry is often made with a pre-made spice mixture known as curry powder.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 heaping tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or stock)
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3.5 ounces rice noodles
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • Generous handful fresh basil torn
  • Handful fresh cilantro chopped, if desired
  • Scallions chopped, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the olive oil and onion to a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the ginger, garlic and curry paste, and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, water, lime juice, and noodles.
  4. Increase heat to high and bring to a gentle boil. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Test to ensure the noodles are ready.
  7. Stir in the basil, cilantro and scallions. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve immediately with an extra wedge of lime on the side if desired.

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