I’m probably the only food blogger on the planet who hasn’t pumped out post after post about Christmas entertaining. Peppermint or egg-nog flavored [insert dish here]. How to decorate with herbs/fruit/milk bottles/origami. The well-worn “Christmas gifts for cooks” list (even Kimball’s list was … odd. A $30 timer? Seriously?). Cookie swaps everywhere. Ho ho ho hum.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone completely over to the Grinch side. I like holiday festivities — Christmas lights, poinsettias, Christmas carols, “A Christmas Carol” (the George C. Scott version, thank you very much) — it’s all a very cheery backdrop to an otherwise dreary December. I’m just not, you know, feelin’ it this year. As some of you know, my mom passed a couple of months ago, so it will be the first Christmas without my parents, my dad having passed in 2009. It feels sort of … empty. Incomplete.
I’m also in deep denial that I’ll be hosting Christmas dinner. I’m panicking that I’m not panicking over the menu. Panicking, that is, between those moments of calm when I wonder, isn’t there something I’m forgetting? But we still have, what, 6 days?
Plenty of time!
In the meantime, I’ll do what addicts do and turn to my drug of choice, which happens to be soup. Tikka Masala soup is inspired by one of my favorite chicken dishes, the luscious, Indian-spice-scented Chicken Tikka Masala, only I usually prepare the soup with spiced, sauteed shrimp instead of chicken. Warm and fragrant, this soup is comfort food and then some. Calm. Peaceful bliss. Mmmmm, a delicious hug in a bowl.
Umm, yeah, what day is it again?
The 19th?! [Eeek! Panic! Freak Out!]
Tikka Masala Soup
Prep Time:10 minutes
Bake time:35 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
3 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil, divided
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable broth
28 ounces chopped or crushed tomatoes (I use the 26 ounce box of Pomi tomatoes)
3/4 cup instant brown rice
1/3 cup coconut milk (5 ounce can, if you can find it)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, for garnish
additional salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 4 or 5 qt. stock pot or dutch oven over medium. Season shrimp with the first five spices in the ingredients. Add to the pot when the oil shimmers in a single layer. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the first side is pink. Flip each shrimp and continue cooking until opaque (another 2 to 3 minutes). Remove to a plate and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pot (heat still on medium). Add the onions and cook until soft and golden, scraping up any fond left behind by the shrimp. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant (just a minute or two).
3. Sprinkle in the curry powder, garam masala, smoked paprika, salt and flour, stirring to coat the vegetables until a paste begins to form. Add one cup of vegetable broth and stir until the mixture has smoothed out. Add the remaining cup of broth and the tomatoes. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, then return heat to medium how. Add the rice. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Turn heat to low and add the coconut milk and reserved shrimp. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and ladle into serving bowls.
Note: this soup will taste great with any grain you like in place of instant brown rice. I often use farro; quinoa is fantastic. Just make sure you extend the simmer time to fully cook the grains according to the package directions.