When the weather turns from crisp to downright cold, I crave a hearty tomato-coconut soup with a little heat, and this version checks all the boxes. High in protein and packed with flavor, this soup makes for a mighty fine lunch or light dinner. To save on time, cook the rice in advance and use rotisserie chicken meat instead of cooking chicken thighs. If you’re looking for a little more heat, throw in an extra jalapeño or even a red chile, and feel free to swap in any seasonal greens you like instead of the spinach (radish greens or kale work well).
Serves 6–8 | Start to Finish Time: 80 minutes
- 3/4 cup black rice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, sliced 1-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 3-inch stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise and finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped into thin 2-inch strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (15-ounce) coconut milk, preferably full fat
- 1 can (15-ounce) diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to season
- 4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more to top
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more to season
- Crushed peanuts, lime wedges, to serve
Place rice in a fine-mesh colander or sieve and rinse under cold water. In a medium saucepan, bring rice and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Rice should be soft yet chewy.
In a large stockpot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the jalapeño, lemongrass, red pepper, and carrot, and cook an additional 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scoot all the vegetables to the periphery of the pot to make space for the chicken thighs.
Add chicken, chicken broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes, curry paste, and salt. Stir well, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken pieces from the pot, place on a large plate, and allow to cool slightly. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and place back in the pot. Fold in the cooked rice, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add the spinach, cilantro, lime juice, and fish sauce, and heat until spinach just begins to wilt. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as desired. Serve soup with crushed peanuts, lime wedges, and cilantro. Soup can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 4 days.