Beat the Wheat: Thai Curry Noodle Soup
The Price Is Right. Gilligan's Island reruns. A pile of blankets. Chicken noodle soup. These are the four things I want when I'm feeling under the weather, no matter what time of year it is. Whenever I was home sick from school, my mom always made chicken or beef noodle soup for me, and she let me eat in front of the TV. It was the best! In college and into my 20s, I resorted to the canned stuff whenever I had the sniffles and needed some culinary TLC.
The first cold I got after being diagnosed with celiac, I was stumped. Couldn't buy the canned stuff. Wasn't prepared with any kind of pantry staples on hand to whip up an easy soup. So I ordered panang curry with beef from my favorite Thai delivery place, and that became my I-don't-feel-well comfort food go-to for a year or so.
But I really missed homemade noodle soup. I missed the steam rising from the surface, helping to open up my sinuses (or so it felt like). I missed the comfort it provided when I just wanted to feel better. I decided to revisit my mom’s and grandma's soup recipes and tinker with them a bit to see what I could come up with that was fast and easy — and would smell and taste great. I wanted something I could make ahead and freeze for emergencies (or make with very little effort in a feverish pinch). I also wanted to make sure I had the flexibility to sub in whatever I had on hand in the freezer or fridge, depending on what time of year it was. And I didn't necessarily want to give up my newfound love for panang curry as a feel-better treat.
Thus was born my Thai Curry Noodle Soup. It's fragrant, comforting and substantial. You'll feel full and happy — and like you're on the road to recovery. This soup is magic.
This is an incredibly versatile soup. You can make it vegetarian by subbing in tofu for the meat and vegetable broth for the chicken stock. You can use chicken instead of beef. Use whatever vegetables are in season that you love: fairy tale eggplant, green beans, diced zucchini, pea shoots. Have an allergy? Omit the peanut butter and it'll still be awesome. One note: If you have leftovers, just know that the noodles tend to absorb a lot of the liquid over time, so your leftovers will be more of a pasta-and-sauce dish than a soup.
2 tablespoons red curry paste or panang curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand is gluten-free.)
1 pound flank steak or hanger steak, cut into 1-inch pieces, each 1/2 inch thick
3 tablespoons fish sauce (Thai Kitchen and Red Boat brands are gluten-free.)
12 to 16 ounces rice pasta (Tinkyada and Thai Kitchen brands are gluten-free.)
Heat oil in a large saucepan or enamel cast-iron pot over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add curry paste and stir until incorporated.
Add beef to the pan and saute for 1 minute.
Add peas and stir mixture to coat evenly with curry paste.
Stir in peanut butter, brown sugar, black pepper and fish sauce until well combined.
Add coconut milk and broth, stir well, and bring to a boil.
Add pasta, then reduce to a simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, until pasta is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in basil. Let rest for 1 minute. Serve.