What We’re Cooking Now: Thai Chicken Soup

I am on a soup kick lately – probably because soup is filling; with the way I cook usually pretty healthy; and an open slate for trying new flavors and ideas.  I made this one last night for Gary and his partners to have over a dinner meeting.  Quick and easy, and the bowl I kept for myself was delicious!

Pairing idea, a crisp Riesling from Washington State, like Naked Riesling from Snoqualmie in Columbia Valley.  Made with certified organic grapes, in an organic facility, Naked wines are made with in the most natural process available, allowing both mother nature to be pleased, and your palate as these wines are expressive and representative of the land they come from.  The Riesling is crisp and light with good acidity balanced with fruit forward, floral flavors of golden apple, honeysuckle and stone fruit.  The crisp characteristics of the wine will balance out the hot chili spice of the soup, without masking the flavors.


Thai Chicken Soup
Ingredients for about 12 cups of soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (Asian chili sauce) – Sambal is fiery, so adjust to your taste. 
Juice and zest of two limes + additional lime slices for garnish
2 teaspoons sea salt + additional for final seasoning, if needed
1 teaspoon pepper + additional for final seasoning, if needed
3 or 4 good size chicken breasts, roasted on the bone/skin on or 2 rotisserie chickens
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 can coconut milt (light or regular – the regular will add more weight and depth of flavor to the soup, but the light is better for you)
1 1/2 cups milk – like the coconut milk, whole milk will add a more weight, but skim milk is better for you.  I would not use cream, it would be too heavy and take away from the clean flavors of the soup.
1 small bunch fresh cilantro – chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil – chopped
3 green onions – dark green to light green parts, sliced

Remove the skin and bone from the chicken (plain breast or rotisserie, if you use the rotisserie use all the meat on the chicken – the dark meat will add richness to the soup) and shred the meat either by hand or using two forks, pulling the meat away in opposite directions.  Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot heat your oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the Sambal, salt and pepper, zest and juice of two limes and cook for 2 minutes to incorporate the flavors and seasoning.  Add the chicken stock.  Stir in the cilantro and basil.  Add the coconut milt and regular milk and bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat.  Add in the shredded chicken and stir to incorporate.  Simmer over low heat until ready to serve.  When ready finish with the chopped green onions.  Soup can be served on its own with a lime wedge or over steamed white rice.

What We’re Cooking Now: Surprise Dinner

A toast to the birthday girl

A few weeks ago I traveled to San Francisco to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday. 

Birthday night we feasted on sushi with family and prepared for the next night and what she thought was going to be a night out with her friends. 

She thought it would likely be at a place called Pican, as she had been talking about this place with bourbon tastings and a desire to have real Southern cooking on her birthday. 

Shrimp and grits, all I had heard for weeks was a desire to have shrimp and grits on her birthday. 

Pancetta Crisps

Little did she know her big birthday celebration was indeed with her friends, but instead of going out her birthday dinner was held at her sweetheart’s place, and cooked by me and surprise guest, Gary, with all the Southern flair we could muster. 

The morning of I claimed this trip was a working vacation and had a day of meetings scheduled in Napa.  Out the door and to the store, then to the BART to pick up Gary and on to cook.  5 hours, 10 people, 4 courses plus appetizers.  No problem.

As mentioned, my sister Daphne wanted a Southern flair – so we pulled out some of our favorite recipes, including a perfect beef tenderloin, rubbed with garlic, rosemary and cracked pepper, with bourbon-maple scallops, just like my bourbon-maple salmon but with beautiful scallops instead, for the main course; the truffle, mushroom, brie creation; pancetta crisps with fig jam, arugula and pomegranate seeds as appetizers; and, of course, the main course had to include Gary’s baked beans

In addition we did a roasted beet, fennel and arugula salad; truffle mashed potatoes and steamed green beans with the main course; and a starter of bacon-wrapped shrimp on super creamy, cheesy polenta.  Daph’s friends arrive well before the birthday girl, one with cake in hand so dessert wasn’t on our to do list, and lots of bubbly and wine to celebrate the birthday girl.

The birthday girl with Gary


7:30PM sharp Daph arrives with a scream of joy and intense laughter, and big hugs for her friends and my sweet Gary for a surprise 40 years in the making.

Cheers Daph, it was a night to remember and quite a celebration of a very deserving you! 

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