Weeknight Shorts: Spicy Soup

While I know a lot of people that shudder when they think of January, it's February that feels the most brutal to me. I'm past being charmed by snow and glittering icicles in the sun and just looking forward to some warmth. How does winter respond? By giving me the greyest, dreariest days it can muster. How do I respond? With warm, spicy soups. After all, all is fair in this seasonal war!

Some days, I have the better part of the day to put together such a soup, but I have an arsenal of recipes that can be put together in a half hour or less. That's the case with this spicy, creamy soup that conjures thoughts of a tropical vacation in Thailand. Tender shrimp swims in a curry-kissed coconut broth sprinkled with sautéed garlic, onion, and pepper. Then, to give it a little more texture, little rice-shaped orzo pasta is simmered to perfection in the broth so every bite is brimming with flavor. It's a perfect meal.

What to have with this perfect meal? It's great on its own, but some crispy egg rolls or spring rolls are a lovely accompaniment, as is a glass of chilled white wine or, if you are really wanting to pull out the big guns, a Thai beer or fancy colorful cocktail. Keep warm!

Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup

  • 1 tablespoon cooking fat of your choice (I used bacon fat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8-10 mini sweet peppers, cut into rings (I used a variety of colors because it's pretty)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 (12-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the cooking fat of your choice in a stockpot over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle, add the garlic, onion, and sweet peppers. Sauté for 8-10 minutes or until they are softened and fragrant. Add the grated ginger, red curry paste, coconut milk, and stock; bring to a simmer.

Once the soup is simmering, add the uncooked pasta and stir well. Cover and cook, stirring every 3-4 minutes, until the pasta is tender (about 15 minutes). Add the shrimp to the soup and reduce the heat to low, stirring gently until the shrimp is fully cooked. Adjust the seasoning as needed and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes