March is here, which means that winter is finally on it’s way out!
The other day I got off the train after work and looked up to notice the last warm fingers of daylight still touching the tops of the buildings in my neighborhood. I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy that made me feel after walking home in the dark all winter long.
The days are getting longer, the air is getting (ever so slightly) warmer, and while the snow still seems to keep falling, spring will be here in just a few short weeks.
For now though, it’s still winter. If I ever had any doubt, all I’d have to do is look out my bedroom window to see the blanket of white snow perforated in tight tracks by the paws of little pups.
I’m no stranger to long winters. I lived in the Adirondacks for my college years, and grew up in Central New York, the land of lake effect snow and highway clogging blizzards.
Winters in the city have always paled in comparison, being more about rain and slush than actual snow accumulation. When I first moved to Brooklyn I would laugh when people complained about winter weather, but after living through more than a few New York City winters, I realize that freezing rain and grey haze are just as depressing and awful as snow that won’t quit piling up.
This winter has been one of the coldest on record here in Brooklyn, and has felt like one of the longest.
I have to admit, I’m over it.
The idea for this recipe came from my desire for something warm and homey and satisfying, like old fashioned chicken noodle soup, mixed with my yearning for bright summery flavors that might draw me out of my cold weather funk.
I thought it was worth a shot to try marrying the idea of chicken noodle soup with the flavors of a Thai Tom Kha Gai coconut soup.
Let me tell you, this soup is amazing. It’s rich and satisfying while somehow also feeling light and healthy.
It’s got a mildly sweet tanginess from the acidic lime juice, a nice bright tropical creaminess from the coconut milk, and just a hint of spice from the fresh ginger and sriracha. The chicken thighs and stock add a nice richness and the carrots give it that traditional chicken soup feeling. The torn cilantro and green onion round out the flavor with green summery freshness, and the al dente rice noodles add a nice bit of texture and substance.
All together every bite is a bright vibrant burst of the tropics in the midst of a dreary grey winter.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
4 carrots, thinly sliced into disks
1 1/2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs
sea salt to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 14 oz can coconut milk
juice of 1 to 4 limes *see note
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup torn cilantro leaves
6 oz package of rice noodles, softened or cooked according to package
Preheat oil over high heat in a large heavy bottom stockpot. Add garlic & ginger and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add carrots and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken thighs and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add chicken stock & salt bring to simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Skim any foam off of the stock. Slice or shred chicken into bite sized pieces. Add the chicken pieces back to the stock along with coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, & sriracha. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Bring just back to a simmer, remove from heat, add scallions and cilantro. Ladle into bowls, serve with a generous handful of rice noodles.
*cooks note: I am crazy for citrus so when I developed this recipe I used the juice of 4 limes. I was thrilled with the flavor and posted the recipe the way I liked it.
Over time, a few readers expressed that it was too much for them and they’d prefer it with less lime if they made it again. I’d suggest you that start with the juice of one lime and give it a taste before deciding if you’d enjoy more.