“Ferry boat food”. Does the phrase bring to mind crowds of passengers, all impatient and queued up in long lines, waiting to slide cafeteria trays down stainless steel ledges, ready to pick up bland, fast-food, carb-loaded meals? Ugh, not my thing. Well, adjust that image to include some new additions to the familiar fare of eggy breakfasts or lunches featuring burgers ‘n fries (poutine perhaps?).
This recipe was inspired by a bowl of soup enjoyed on a trip between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island (Tsawassan to Nanaimo) earlier this year. Who would have thought that ferry food would ever be considered “inspiring”?! This soup was almost too good to share more than a taste with RL, but I relented and welcomed his ingredient analysis. This would be a tempting recipe challenge to work on during our travels afloat.
While I don’t have the recipe for that original bowl of soup, this version scored high with taste testers in my galley. The various ingredients play nicely together, a surprise with some assertive items like ginger, cayenne, curry and garlic involved. No single flavor dominates, but they all have a role. By itself the Chicken Coconut Curry Soup is delicious, but don’t skip the Coconut Rice – it makes the dish something special.
Chicken Coconut Curry Soup
1 plump, skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in slivers
1 generous Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon liquid honey
1 cup chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: shredded flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint and
3 to 4 chopped green onions (green & white parts)
Serve with Coconut Rice (recipe below)
and some extra hot sauce for anyone who likes fiery flavors
For the soup:
1. Cut the chicken into narrow slivers, roughly 1.5 to 2-inches long. Toss with cornstarch to coat completely; set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent.
3. Stir in the Garam Masala, curry powder, cayenne pepper (if using) and ginger; stir for a minute or two until fragrant.
4. Add the honey, chicken stock and coconut milk and mix together until smooth. Cook for several minutes; taste and adjust seasonings. Lower the heat until the soup bubbles at a low simmer.
5. Add the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces and cook to just heat through but still moist and tender. The liquid will thicken slightly.
6. Ladle into bowls and top with green onions and shreds of parsley, basil and mint. Serve with Coconut Rice alongside, or spoon a mound of the rice into each bowl.
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup rice (I use Jasmine or brown Basmati)
2 cups water
¼ cup coconut milk
pinch of salt (optional)
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
Cook rice as indicated on packaging, substituting the ¼ cup coconut milk for ¼ cup of the water. Add the shredded coconut at the end or cook it with the rice, either way works fine.
You will have more rice than needed for the soup. I make extra on purpose to have some available for breakfast or a late night snack. Warm 1 part milk or coconut milk with a handful of raisins. Add 2 parts coconut rice plus a sprinkle of sugared cinnamon and heat or microwave to warm through. Scatter some slivered almonds on top and enjoy.