Did you ever meet someone, have a super brief conversation with them, and realize that if you had met at a different time and/or in a different place you could have really hit it off?
The other day at Wegmans I had the nicest cashier in the whole history of grocery stores. She was witty, joking about customers and the weather (I wish I could remember what she said, but trust me it was funny…and anyone who can make a witty weather joke is a unique find in my book). She was personable, asking questions that were interesting and stayed on the side of friendly rather than nosy. And in the time span of 10 minutes I learned that she hosts brunch for friends every Sunday morning, is studying for a degree in cross-cultural communication, and loves fish tacos. How cool does she sound? We could totally have been besties.
But how weird would it have been for me to point out the fact we were kindred souls and should hang out?
Pretty darn weird (and I don’t want to be that girl). Which is unfortunate because if I had met her and we had started chatting at spinning class or book club, it would have been totally acceptable to invite her to coffee. Sigh.
Anyway, I was buying ingredients for this soup that day at Wegmans. It was one of those recipe ideas that came to me right at the grocery store in a moment of inspiration when I was craving Indian food. (Actually, if I’m being honest, I wanted a super quick, lightened up version of Chicken Tikka Masala, and the idea of turning it into soup came to mind.)
My version is naturally gluten-free and pretty lean – full of veggies and light on fat – but definitely big on flavor! (To lower the fat content even more, you can skip the addition of cream or coconut milk at the end; this soup really won’t suffer for it.) Boneless skinless chicken breast is a great source of lean protein here; it’s something that I always have in my freezer and utilize all the time, but rarely share recipes for. I think I need to change that.
This soup comes together pretty quickly; if you’re so inclined, you can even chop the veggies beforehand (it’s perfect if you do meal prep on the weekend!) so that when you go to make this soup on a weeknight everything is waiting for you. Just remember to marinate your chicken at least a couple hours before you want to make it so that the flavors have time to blend and the chicken can absorb them.
I want to mention, as written, the heat level of this soup is pretty low (mild!), but that can easily be adjusted up by adding more cayenne pepper to the spice mix or hot sauce of your choice to the soup. And if you find that your tomatoes are a bit on the tart side, you can always add a touch of honey to taste (start out small – a little goes a long way!).
For those of you who are like me and can never get enough Indian food, I think this one will be a new favorite. (And for those of you who are in the mood for Indian flavors and have a bit more time to play with, check out my Indian Butter Chicken, which will probably always hold the #1 spot for Indian food in my heart.)
- 3 teaspoons garam masala spice mix
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
- 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (29 oz/822 g) can tomato puree (about 3½ cups)
- 2 cups (475 ml) low-sodium chicken stock, warmed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream or full-fat canned coconut milk (optional)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Fresh lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- Naan, for serving (optional)
- Combine all ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl; divide in half.
- Mix together the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, cracked garlic cloves, ½ the spice mixture, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaf, remaining ½ of the spice mixture, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato puree, chicken stock, and tomato paste; bring the soup up to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook the chicken while the soup simmers. Preheat oven to 450F. Remove any excess marinade, and spread the chicken out on a large baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping once halfway through. (The chicken is done when there is no pink inside.)
- Remove the bay leaf from the soup, and puree using an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender. Pour the soup back into the pot and reheat as necessary; turn off the heat and add the cream and cooked chicken. (Once the cream is added, don't let it come back up to a boil.)
- Taste and add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and/or honey to taste.
- To serve, pour into individual bowls, sprinkle on the cilantro or parsley (if using), and serve along with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze into the soup if desired.