The gray and grime of Alaska springtime has once again returned.
The pastels and florals of the season clash with the muddy slush and feel awfully out of place here. I cannot think of fluffy bunnies while I pass starving moose, and I wish desperately for all of us that the remnants of December will not linger too much longer.
This dreary season leaves me uninspired, and prone to melancholy — so much so that even hiding eggs and candy baskets are empty rituals to me. Indeed, if I did not have a child, I would pass the holiday as I would any other Sunday, without a second thought.
My son, however, has been anticipating this holiday for months. He somehow inexplicably remembers looking for eggs last year, and the experience apparently made such an impression on him that he has been practicing hiding, finding and counting his eggs since November.
We will have some of his cousins here to add to his excitement, and plenty of other family to be happy with him, so I can honor my somber heart in peace.
When the gray starts to seep into my soul, I try to burn it out with spice. This Thai coconut red curry soup is bright and vibrant, and as spicy as you please — a perfect punch of color against the exhaust-colored muck of breakup.
Thai coconut red curry soup
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 ounces rice noodles — any width
1 red bell pepper — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic — minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger —minced
½ large white onion — sliced thinly
At least 2 ounces Thai red curry paste — up to 4 ounces depending on spice tolerance
The juice of 1 lime plus 1 lime for garnish
5 cups chicken bone broth
1 can full-fat coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
Plenty of fresh chopped cilantro — at least ¼ cup, more to taste
Fresh sliced jalapeno — as much as you dare
Boil your rice noodles according to the instructions, strain, rinse under cold water being sure to rub off as much of the starch as possible, then set aside.
Fry your minced ginger and garlic in coconut oil directly in a soup pot until fragrant.
Add your sliced onion and cook until softened.
Whisk 2 ounces of the red curry paste in a cup of the bone broth and add to the pot. Stir to combine, then add in the rest of the broth.
Whisk in the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice.
Taste and assess for spiciness. If you can handle more, add more curry paste by taking a little soup out of the pot and whisking the curry paste into that in a separate bowl before returning to the larger pot. This will ensure there will be no unpleasant globs of paste leftover in the final soup.
Bring the soup to a boil.
Add in the chicken and red bell pepper and boil for 5 minutes.
Portion out the (now room temperature) cooked rice noodles into serving bowls.
Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the cilantro, saving just a little for garnish.
Ladle the almost boiling soup directly over the rice noodles. This will simultaneously cool the soup and heat the noodles to the perfect serving temperature.
Top with lime wedges, extra cilantro, and as much jalapeno as you like.