Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Holy cow…it’s February. Did you know this? It’s February. Crap. Days are passing by me like a freight train.  I’ve been having a tough time keeping up with posting delicious recipes. I’m so sorry. The truth is that I’m holding out on you. I’ve got tons of delicious treats that have been brewing up in this little kitchen of mine as I’ve been dealing with winter blues, cabin fever, and job stress. I just have to sit my butt down, and type them out. So here we go….

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

First, I will catch you up a bit. Recently I celebrated my 34th birthday. I made the mistake of working on my birthday…what? But my sweet man took me out on an unforgettable birthday dinner to a fabulous french restaurant in Kansas City, Le Frou Frog.  It’s a beautiful and quaint restaurant in the inside….the outside, eeeeh…well, looks like a defunct strip club. I kid you not. But don’t let that deter you like it did me for the past 5 years. If you are ever in KC and are in need of a great dinner and lively night, check it out. My husband got the biggest KC strip I had ever seen, dripping with drool-icious green peppercorn sauce. YUM. I had a chicken roulade stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, and sundried tomatoes. A winning combination. And of course some finger-licking fabulous french sauce poured on top. Love those french sauces. Why can’t I recreate them! Eeeeeerhmergerd. Oh and then topped the night off with my fave, creme brûlée. I died and returned to Paris. It was the best.

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Aside from my birthday and crazy work schedule, I’m in a daily battle and staring competition with my pour chocolate lab, Guinness. I typically take him on daily walks, but my poor sad old man dog hasn’t gone on a walk in over a week because wind chills are below zero in this crazy town. UGH.  WHO LIVES LIKE THIS! And how do people in Canada survive? Or even Minnesota! Seriously. I’m wearing two pairs of long underwear…TWO.

The main thing getting me through this crazy cold winter has been cozy and comfy soups. I constantly crave Pho, day in and day out. I love the fresh cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts that get stirred into the hot delicious bowl of goodness. There is an amazing little Vietnamese place that I frequent called Vietnam Cafe. It’s paradise on earth and in a bowl. But alas, I am no Pho master. So instead, I’ve created a love child soup between Thai curry and Pho…sort of.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

This Thai Coconut Curry soup is set up like Pho: fill your bowl with “noodles”, pour in the broth curry soup, top with cilantro, basil, sprouts, and siracha. Instead of rice noodles, I use my favorite veg swap, spaghetti squash.  It’s healthy, nutritious, low carb, whole food. It’s good for you. Do it. But…with that being said, you could easily use rice noodles instead.

If you are a bit bored with your regular soup rotation, give this one a go. It’s comforting, lively, and will definitely brighten any gloomy day.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Inspired by Bon Appetit and Bev Cooks

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 Tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of light or full fat coconut milk
  • 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken (breast or thighs)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 10 oz raw mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, chop into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves torn
  • Garnish: cilantro, basil, chile paste, lime wedges, scallions, bean sprouts

Ingredients

  1. Place spaghetti squash into microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes. Slice in half, remove and discard seeds. Place into a shallow glass baking dish with 1 inch of water. Place back into microwave. Microwave on high again for an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Place most of the sliced red onion into the pan. Reserve about 1/4 cup of red onions for garnish on top of the finished soup. Saute the sliced onion for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the curry paste, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and garlic to the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth and coconut milk, stirring until mixture is combined. Add chicken and then bring coconut broth to a boil. Add fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and sliced mushrooms and combine. Cook covered for 15 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool so that you can shred it. Shred the chicken (I use two forks).
  4. Bring the soup back to a boil and add the snow pea pods, shredded chicken, cilantro, and basil to the pot. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork, pull the spaghetti squash “noodles” from the squash. Place about 1/2 cup of squash noodles in the base of each serving bowl. Ladle Thai soup over the squash noodles. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro, basil leaves, Thai chile paste, scallions, and/or bean sprouts.
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Crockpot Curry Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

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Most of you know that my favorite kitchen invention is the Crockpot. I have raved about this domestication blessing before. Once temps jump a little lower, I pull this amazing beauty from beneath my counter and place her in her designated spot, front and center on the counter. BAM. Fall and winter scream for ROASTS and STEWS and CHILI! Nothing is better than coming home from work with dinner ready to go. Thank you my lil’ crockpot friend.

The crockpot is great for those tougher cuts of meat that need to be cooked low and slow. This Curried Beef and Sweet Potato Stew was inspired by a recipe for Crockpot Curried Short Ribs in my favorite new cookbook from Danielle Walker of Against All Grain. If you haven’t gotten her cookbook, go…now…run…fast. It’s awesome and filled with the most lovely food porn you will see, especially for grain free meals! Amazing.

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The original recipe slow cooks short ribs in coconut milk and asian curry spices, which sounded divine. However, because I didn’t have all of the ingredients, the recipe quickly morphed into something new. The beauty of crockpots and imagination means that stew meat, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and indian curry spices turns out to be one helluva meal! I have made curry stews with beef and sweet potatoes before, but this one was by far the creamiest because of my fabulous friend, the crockpot.

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The house was filled with warming spicy aroma all day. You can increase or decrease the heat based on the quantity of curry powder and optional cayenne powder. We are SPICY people over here, so things get amped up till our knee pits sweat. Because THAT is living, people. Oh, and we served this stew over cauliflower “rice”. Check out this post for preparation methods. Mmmmm.

Crockpot Curried Beef and Sweet Potato Stew (adapted from the Against All Grain Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 pounds grass-fed beef stew meat (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz can diced organic tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 6 oz can organic tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (light or full fat)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons curry powder (such as madras)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the seasoned stew meat in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with onion, garlic, tomatoes, and sweet potato. Stir in cilantro leaves and stems. In a medium bowl, whisk the coconut milk, tomato paste, curry powder, salt and ground pepper until well mixed. Pour the coconut mixture into the slow cooker over the meat and vegetables.
  2. Cook for at least 8 hours on low, stirring the mixture every once and awhile.
  3. Serve over cauliflower “rice” or regular rice and top with additional cilantro leaves.

Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower

There are several people who have had a huge hand in transforming the way I cook and approach food. Michael Pollan has definitely had a hefty part in it.  That is why I was so excited to finally hear him speak this weekend about his new book, Cooked.  He is one of the leading voices of the local food movement, eating “real” food, and getting back into the kitchen and cooking with your family. I love it.

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Before we left Oklahoma and moved to Kansas City, I thought I ate rather healthy. But I was still consuming a lot of processed food.  I think a lot of people think this way, even when they still eat a lot of processed foods because the box saaaaays it’s healthy. Right? and why would a box or advertising lie to me? right? bonjour? But despite cooking “healthy”, I was getting sicker and sicker every day, literally.  Everything I ate seemed to put my stomach into knots or stabbing pain or worse. I began an elimination diet. I came up with a new theory every day. At first I thought it was fatty meat…no meat! Then it was beans.. no beans! then it was dairy…. so I became vegan…. and by the end, I seriously was eating only oatmeal and sweet potatoes for months….MONTHS. 

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And then I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. At the same time, my cousin Sarah gave me an amazing book by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle. Reading these books were like discovering a deodorant that finally works, or finding the perfect pair of jeans, or realizing that you left ten bucks in your coat pocket last winter!  If you are looking for a summer read, I recommend these books. Life…changed.

I immediately eliminated all processed foods. I was on a hunt for local sources of meat and produce.  Everything changed…for the better. My health improved. My relationship with food was so much better. I discovered vegetables I had never heard of…what the crap is celeriac???? I grew a garden (helloooo rhubarb), learned to can, make pickles, and preserve food anyway possible. I basically got in touch with my inner grandma. I love it.  My inner grandma loves it. My tummy loves it.

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Fresh produce doesn’t always require a lot of spices because their natural flavor is enough. However, during this odd time between winter and spring, fresh produce includes greens, or peas, or tubers, or something that was canned from last year’s garden.  Don’t be afraid by the long list of ingredients in this curry recipe. I promise this meal comes together rather quickly and yields an amazingly fresh and flavorful meal.  Serve with rice or, for a grain free option, make ‘riced’ cauliflower (recipe below).

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Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower (adapted from Food & Wine, January 2012)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, about 1 cup diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons madras curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 14 0z can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (light okay)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, 1-inch dice
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces*
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat coconut oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add diced sirloin steak and brown the pieces on all sides, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add onion, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, and salt and stir frequently until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and stir constantly and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, water, diced sweet potatoes, and half of the diced cauliflower. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate heat and continue cooking covered until potato and cauliflower are tender (about 15 minutes).
  4. Turn heat to low. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon.
  5. Stir in frozen peas. Turn heat off and place lid on dutch oven, allowing peas to cook through for a few minutes. Add additional salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  6. Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro and riced cauliflower (or regular rice). Directions for riced cauliflower are provided below.

*Riced Cauliflower – Place the other half of the diced cauliflower into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until you get rice-sized pieces. Do not over process or it will become puree cauliflower.  Place in a microwaved-safe dish with a lid slightly ajar and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir.