Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 med onion
1 medium shallot
8 ounces carrots , sliced on an angle into 1/4 inch wide slices
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste*
2-3 tablespoons red curry paste , available in the Asian section at most larger grocers
2 teaspoon mild curry powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
32 ounces chicken broth
6 ounces small yellow potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced widthwise into bite size pieces
2 ounces rice noodles or rice sticks, available in the Asian section at most larger grocers
2 15-ounce cans coconut milk, I almost always use the light variety
1-2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ med red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
½ med yellow bell pepper, halved lengthwise then sliced crosswise
2-3 heads baby bok choy, root end trimmed about ½ inch, then thinly sliced, lengthwise
1 ½ cups tiny frozen peas
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen for 30 minutes then sliced thinly into bite-size pieces
fresh basil
fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil till shimmering in a large pot or dutch oven then add onion, carrots and shallot, cook 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add ginger and lemongrass, curry paste, curry powder, brown sugar and cilantro. Cook another minute or until fragrant.

2. Add chicken broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then add potatoes. Simmer another 10 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are very tender.

3. Add rice noodles (break them up before adding if they’re long) and simmer five more minutes.

4. Add coconut milk and return to a simmer. Immediately** add chicken, baby bok choy, peppers, peas, cover and turn off burner. Let sit, covered for 5 minutes. The chicken will cook during this rest time but will remain tender and velvety – if you add the chicken earlier it will cook too long and become tough. Serve with jasmine rice and a sprinkle of fresh basil and cilantro for garnish. I also love to garnish with diced avocado.

* You can use an equal amount of fresh, finely chopped lemongrass in lieu of the lemongrass paste but I like to keep this condiment on hand as most of my local grocers don’t carry fresh lemongrass. This paste is becoming quite easy to find – I’ve noticed they’re even carrying it in the produce section at Super Walmart.)
** Coconut milk will separate and lose it’s lovely consistency if boiled or simmered very long.

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