Three-Curry Noodles With Coconut Broth
When the going gets tough, the tough make soup.
Okay, maybe that's not exactly how the saying goes... but you get the sentiment. When faced with a difficult time in your life, you have a few choices: a) You can wallow in self-despair and let the sadness overtake you; b) You can engage in any number of self-immolating behaviors; c) You can actively do something that brings you peace; d) You can cuddle up on the couch with some not-too-unhealthy comfort food; or e) a combination of c) and d).
I'm passing through a difficult season of my life right now, and have been doing my very best to choose options c), d) and e) rather than my old go-to choices, a) and b). Some days are easier than others. Make no mistake, I'm happy to be home—enjoying the love and support of my family and friends-who-are-family, visiting my favorite spots, exploring new ones, poking around the Market and creating in the kitchen. But I'm also facing difficult situations on several fronts, and am realizing they may not have satisfying resolutions. And of course, the thing about home is that it comes with ghosts—of people and places and times and dreams unrealized. Sometimes they're no more than a memory, and sometimes I even smile at the thought of them. But sometimes their loss is palpable, and their shadowy visages haunt me. So, for now, I am trying to focus on the positive, take it one day at a time and hope for the best. And I'm trying to channel some of this swirling energy into positive things, such as creativity and self-care.
Which brings me back, in a very roundabout way, to soup. Soup comforts my inner child. It evokes memories of sick days spent in mama's care, and of cold, rainy evenings bundled up on the couch watching sitcoms with the family. This particular recipe is a variation on the summer squash soup from my culinary idol Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day. In this incarnation, it's the ultimate comfort food: part soup, part pasta, with a smooth, rich coconut broth and crispy fried toppings. My favorite noodles make a reappearance here, but you could use any type of long, thin noodle or pasta that brings you peace. It warmed me inside and out, down to my soul; its sunny color brought a smile to my face, and the curry brought a fire back to my belly. It's the type of meal that reminds me everything will be alright. I hope it does the same for you—though I hope it's under better circumstances.
Three-Curry Noodles With Coconut Broth
1/2 lb pasta (I used Goan Curry Angel Hair from Pappardelle's Pasta)
2-3 smallish yellow and green zucchini
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 heaping tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp coconut oil, plus a splash for frying tofu
1 14-oz can coconut milk (left undisturbed so coconut cream rises to the top)
2 cans water (using coconut milk can)
Handful of cooked or canned chickpeas
1/2 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1" rectangles
Healthy pinch of curry powder (I used Madras curry)
Small handful of fresh basil and/or cilantro, finely sliced/chopped
Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stir together curry paste, oil and a few spoonfuls of coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the shallots, and saute until soft. Add the zucchini and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, until just tender.
Meanwhile, heat another splash of coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the tofu, a sprinkle of salt and the curry powder and fry until crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes. When the zucchini is finished cooking, add the coconut milk, water and chickpeas. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn off the heat. Spoon the noodles into bowls, ladle over the zucchini and broth mixture and top with tofu and herbs. Season with additional salt to taste.