Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
There’s a lot of great food in Santa Cruz and since our return to the Central Valley, I’ve had to learn to live without Vasili’s Lamb Souvlaki, Erik’s Chicken Pesto and The Santa Cruz Diner’s Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.
Santa Cruz Diner is famous for its diverse menu, huge portions and relatively low prices. That obnoxious ass who dominates the Food Network featured it in his Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Don’t worry though. He’s long gone by now, so the next time you find yourself on the far end of Hwy 17, stop by and fill your belly.
In the meantime, here’s a version of their Coconut Curry Chicken Soup that I make once a month to stave off the homesickness. It’s super easy and these days you can usually find things like Fish Sauce and Sriacha without too much trouble. I get my curry mixes at the indian store down the block, but you can use one of the basic ones from the supermarket spice section for this recipe.
Lentils find their way onto so many of those lists of foods we SHOULD be eating but in my house, shoulds are widely ignored. We eat what we crave, and finding ways to make lentils craveable was easier than I ever expected. Over the last year, I've fallen in love with the lowly lentil. From Mujadara (brown lentils, wild rice and caramelized onions) to Moong Dal (yellow lentil soup with carrots and potatoes) to my new favorite Spicy Red Lentil Soup. The pop of fresh herbs and the bite of hot peppers elevate this red lentil soup to a whole new level.
I'm not supposed to tell you that this lentil soup (dal) is healthy. Kathy says that doing so will somehow rob it of its yumminess. And it IS yummy. Addictively so. Within 24-hours of whipping up that first pot, I had to make another. A cross between Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup in its comfort-food factor, this Indian staple was an immediate family favorite and will be in your house too. Served on its own or with a full meal, it will steal the show.
Yellow Lentils (Masoor Dal) are high in both protein and fiber and this super-simple soup is a perfect way to do something nice for your body without sacrificing taste. The flavor is mild enough that you can mix it up and add or substitute your favorite flavors. Spinach instead of cilantro or a drizzle of Sriracha on top. The possibilities only end at the bottom of your bowl. And as Kathy would tell you, having gotten over the "Healthy" hurdle, don't knock it until you've tried it and licked your bowl clean. (Recipe Below)
I have a long list of Swear-By recipes including Gordon’s Ramsay’s F-Word burgers, Alton Brown’s meatloaf and Tyler Florence’s fajitas. I also Swear By my Dad’s chili, my Mom’s homemade bread and my own Chicken Tortilla Soup. I've been making it long enough that I'm not sure where the original recipe came from and now, I’ve tinkered with it enough that I just got used to calling it my own. That said, I make it on those days when I don't want to do anything labor intensive but still want people to show up at the dinner table the first time I call.
This is a great one-pot recipe and something anyone allowed to use knives can prepare. This is the only recipe I use where I actually boil the poultry as the idea of boiled meat is something I've always found off-putting, but here it works just fine and unless I have leftover grilled chicken to throw in, I boil away. I like to throw this soup in a crock pot (after sweating the onions and garlic in a pan) early in the day and let it simmer on low for a couple of hours, but if you don’t have the time to do so, you can whip it up in half an hour easy. [Recipe Follows]