Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cleansing Green Curry Soup

I am currently suffering from one of the worst colds I have had in a long time! Since changing my diet, I have hardly had a sick day and when I do get sick, it is quite mild and short lived (and I used to get sick ALL the time!!!)  So it is no coincidence that this cold hit me much harder at a time when I haven't been making the best food choices. I have fallen into a rut and have come to the realization that I have the winter blues! 

We have had an unseasonal winter for Colorado with colder temps and more snow than usual and you would think this Midwestern girl could handle it, but not my sensitive soul!!! But one amazing lesson that I am finally starting to understand is that life is all about ups and downs and that falling into an occasional slump is going to happen for the rest of my life. But it is how I react to it that will determine how low it goes and how long it lasts. I did not get this concept in my 20's so I frequently suffered from mild depression and anxiety, but with a little life experience, a lot of self awareness, and a huge desire to improve myself, I can proudly say I have overcome anxiety and depression. Now don't get me wrong, I still have my moments of despair, outrageous fears, excessive worrying, and falling back into bad habits, and sometimes those moments even last a week or two, but I don't attach to them like I used to. And I don't beat myself up. I know myself well enough now to know that I won't let myself just stay in a perpetual rut of self loathing and bad choices. In our society, eating clean and allergy free can be quite difficult and time consuming and sometimes I just get overwhelmed and need a break. Fortunately, my food sensitivities don't cause immediate discomfort (though sometimes I wish they did because they would be easier to stay away from!). But, when I find myself gradually adding in more animal products, gluten, sugar, preservatives and coffee, my body eventually feels more aches and pains, sluggish and bloated. 

Thankfully, spring is just around the corner and for me, spring has always been the start of my new year. I feel rejuvenated, inspired, motivated and energized. It is the perfect time to cleanse the body of toxins and awaken the body from hibernation. And meals, like this green curry soup, are just the ticket to jumpstarting the process!

Green Curry Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe I found in Eating Well magazine. I took it to the next level by making my own Asian stock which is incredibly nourishing and makes enough to use for this recipe and freeze several jars. Using chicken broth, vegetable broth or water is perfectly fine, but if you want that extra cleansing factor, making your own stock is incredibly easy and incredibly worth it! If using Basil Green Curry Sauce, use up to 6 tablespoons and less coconut milk if you like it spicy, but use less sauce and more coconut milk if you want to tame the spice. And don't sweat it if you can't find lemon grass!

1 yellow onion sliced into crescent moons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups green beans cut into 1" pieces
1 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems (save the crowns for another use)
5 scallions, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced or grated
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons thai green curry paste or 3-6 tablespoons Meals in a Minute Basil Green Curry Sauce
4-5 cups broth or water
2 1/2 cups shititake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon grass (peel outer leaves until you reach tender center)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
8 cups gently packed spinach, chopped (half pureed in food processor with a little water/optional)
1/2-1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
Brown Rice Noodles (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat and add sliced yellow onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add in green beans, broccoli stems, green onion, garlic, ginger and serrano pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add in the green curry paste or sauce and mix until well coated. Add the stock and mushrooms and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, cook up your thin rice noodles, if using,  in boiling water as directed, then drain. Add in lemon grass, cilantro, spinach and coconut milk and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Spoon some noodles into a bowl and ladle soup over top. Enjoy!

Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the finished product. I needed to run a quick errand so gave my husband instructions to cook half the package of noodles, but forgot to tell him to keep them separate. He cooked the whole package and added them all to the soup so we had Green Curry Soup Pasta that night instead :)

Asian Stock:

1 large onion, quartered
1 head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 inches ginger, chopped
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, chopped 
1 bunch cilantro stems
1 inch piece kombu (optional)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 tsp sea salt
8-12 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot and cover with water to within 2 inches from the top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-4 hours. Strain over a large bowl. Use what you need for the recipe and than jar the rest to freeze, making sure it is completely cooled first.

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