When I’m sick, there is one soup I crave above all others, though really, I make this soup almost every week in the winter because it’s so tasty: Coconut Chicken Soup. This is the meal I bring to my friends after they give birth or if they're suffering from a cold. This is the soup that I make on a chilly fall night or when I’ve had a bad day or when I’m feeling pressed for time. My family eats this soup a lot!
The best part about Coconut Chicken Soup is that while my base remains essentially the same, the ingredients vary with what the CSA delivered or what’s left in my fridge. If the directions seem vague, I apologize, but really--it’s soup! Throw in what sounds tasty to you.
Now, why is this soup so great when you have a cold?
I add a little chili pepper and I swear it helps burn the snot right out of me (admittedly, ewww). The well-cooked chicken and rice are easy to digest, and the bit of lemon adds antioxidants. Carrots and greens add vitamins and minerals, and the coconut milk is a great source of medium-chain fatty acids that your body can absorb directly without its lymphatic system or bile salts. That means it's an easy meal to digest when you're not feeling tip-top.
My favorite garnish for this soup is salty ume plum vinegar, made from umeboshi plums. In Japan umeboshi plums are a folk remedy for colds and are thought to combat fatigue.
Basically, coconut chicken soup is easy on the tummy, packed full of nutrients, and delicious to boot!
Coconut Chicken Soup
½ medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
¼ teaspoon of red pepper chili flakes (adjust to personal taste)
1 quart chicken broth (homemade, canned, or bouillon)
2 medium carrots, diced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (or use skinless thighs or skinless bone-in chicken breast)
½ cup white rice, any type
1 bunch greens, roughly chopped (I recommend kale or chard)
1 T lemon juice
1 can coconut milk
Ume Plum Vinegar
Spicy Sesame Oil
- Sautee onion 5-10 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant, but not burned. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add carrots and chicken breast, reduce heat and simmer covered 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and let cool on a plate. Shred or chop.
- Add rice and cook 15-20 minutes. In the last few minutes of cooking, add leafy greens, chicken, lemon juice and coconut milk.
- Garnish with ume plum vinegar, spicy sesame oil and cilantro.