Soup and stew don’t usually scream “summer,” but the combo of spice and light coconut flavor in this dish will make it a year-round fave. After a week of chomping and chewing salads for Whole30, I wanted something hot and creamy. When I ran across a hard-copy of this recipe (while trying to rid my counters of piles of papers before hosting a party), I was more than a little excited to see that it is Whole30 compliant. A friend had given me this recipe several years ago, and I’d not yet tried it. Truthfully, I think I’d avoided it because it used coconut milk, and not dairy, and that sounded weird for soup. It’s from an issue of Cooking Light (January 2001), and the recipe called for light coconut milk, but Whole30 calls for full-fat coconut milk, so that’s what I used. It also called for pumpkin, but I used butternut squash since it’s not pumpkin season. I added a Granny Smith apple and chicken broth (in lieu of plain water) for flavor, and chipotle powder for smokiness. While it had heat, I didn’t think it was too hot, yet it was spicy enough for my husband to not douse with cayenne pepper, as is his usual habit.
The recipe was intended as a stew to be served on top of rice, and this would be delicious over jasmine or basmati rice. It would serve 8-10 if topping rice. But rice isn’t in the Whole30 plan, so I served it without and it was plenty filling.
1½ pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Dash salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½-1 fresh jalapeño, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons salt
½ coarse ground black pepper
Dash to ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups cubed fresh butternut squash (or acorn squash, or pumpkin)
1 cup chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups cooked Jasmine or Basmati rice
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add onion. Sauté until onions are translucent, then add red bell pepper, apple, ginger, and jalapeño and cook 2-3 minutes, or until veggies are tender-crisp. Add curry, salt, pepper, chipotle powder, and minced fresh garlic. Heat and stir for a minute or two to toast spices. Stir in squash, chicken broth, and coconut milk (and coconut cream that has settled to top of can!). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Return cooked chicken to pot with fresh cilantro, and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Serve as is, or ladle over cooked rice.