Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Shells = Stock = Soup

Okay, now we're really in the thick of holiday season. Which means things like having cookies and pancakes for dinner and generally enjoying disgraceful eating habits. But every so often I crave an antidote. I wanted something warm and light, maybe a little spicy, and I thought a soup might help jostle the colds that both Margy and I are dealing with. Plus the poor kid was traipsing around NYC all day and night, struggling to cope with the selfish and illegal transit strike, so she deserved a tonic.

This inauthentic Thai-style shrimp noodle soup came together fast -- by necessity, as I had to run off to rehearsal. My ace in the hole is that I always have shrimp stock on hand. (That's why we eat shrimp so often: I collect their shells! They wait in the freezer until I have enough for a batch of stock.) Basically, I tried a few things that seemed to make sense, and it worked. I might not be so lucky the next time.

I heated about a quart and a half of stock in a pot, and threw in two crushed garlic cloves and a couple of Thai chilies. I let that simmer so the garlic and chili would flavor the broth. When it wasn't getting spicy enough, I slit one of the chilies to let the fiery seeds seep out and spread their influence. I added a few tablespoons of Thai fish sauce too. After 15 or 20 minutes of simmering, I added raw shrimp, parboiled rice noodles, and some spinach leaves, and cooked it for about three minutes until the shrimp were opaque and the noodles were hot. A squeeze of lime and a few cilantro leaves on top brightened everything up nicely. Soon Margy and I were sweating happily and letting our bodies thank us for a break from the holiday madness.

And then we had some cookies for dessert.

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