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Everybody!  I just attended my first cooking class!  It was a Thai foods cooking class and I loved it.  As I sat there watching the chef show us all sorts of cool things that were entirely new to me, though I love cooking and of course, eating (Did you know that bone-in meats are substantially more flavorful than boneless?  Did you know that if your purpose is cooking and not garnishing, you should always use cilantro stems or roots, not leaves as leaves lose their flavor quickly once heated?  ME NEITHER!), I thought of my dear, childhood friend Richelle, who sent me the recipe for this soup.  I felt strongly in that moment that hers needed to be our next soup.  So here you have it.  I present to you gorgeous Number Nine:

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (a standard size tray package)
4 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, cut into small dice
2 Tbsp. Gourmet Garden™ Lemon Grass herb paste (the stuff in the tube or the real thing, if you can find it)
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup half and half (10%) cream
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. red curry paste
1 1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili paste (or Sriracha, as an alternative but you may need less)
2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste (to taste)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups cooked rice (long grain white or brown rice or try a mix of long grain with wild rice for some added texture)
Fresh cilantro, parsley or basil leaves shredded for garnish

Cook rice and set aside (or use left-over cooked rice).

Heat large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. oil. When hot, add mushrooms and cook until golden and tender. Remove to a plate. In same pot, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and heat. Add onion, red pepper, and saute just until softened. Return mushrooms to pot. Add broth and chicken and heat through. Add lemon grass paste, fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

It occurs to me, looking at this photo, that I’m bored of looking at soup shots in this green pot with only appearances by my yellow pot to spice things up a bit.  I’m now more thoroughly convinced than ever before that I need to add a new one to my repertoire.  I’m doing this for YOU, people.  Because I don’t want you to have to look at the same two pots over and over again, ad nauseum.  It’s not right that you should have to.  For my next blogging-slash-friendship investment, I’m going to get either purple or turquoise.  What’s your vote?

But now, down to more serious business.  You’ll need to add milk, turn heat to low, then cover and simmer 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, add curry paste, Sambal Oelek, tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. water and cornstarch and mix until incorporated. Stir into soup until combined and heat until soup simmers, thickens very slightly and has a velvety appearance. Add cooked rice, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (You can also add more curry paste, tomato paste and/or Sambal Oelek to taste at this point, as well).

Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, parsley or basil leaves and serve with additional Sambal Oelek for those who prefer a hotter soup.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Total time: 2 hours 20 min
Yield: 6-8 servings

And just as a joyful aside, just look at the day outside today that I get to sit and feast my eyes upon.  I hope yours, wherever  you are, is just as beautiful.