After a Labor Day weekend filled with friends, house guests, and an impromptu cookout, we had a refrigerator brimming with fantastic homemade leftovers that I really had no desire whatsoever to eat again. There are only so many times each week that I can get excited about the same meal. Even when the “same meal” is absolutely delicious (smoked chicken, sweet potato salad, grilled vegetables, quinoa-pesto salad, and more):
So, I decided to try a different approach. I turned the remaining leftover grilled vegetables into a thick, flavorful soup. It could have been fine on its own with just a few spices, but I don’t stop at “fine”, do I? If I had a Sparkle Kitchen business card, my slogan should probably be something like “Excess excellence in the kitchen”. Well, actually, it should really be “Whatever it is, add sweet potato.” But that wouldn’t be a good marketing tactic, would it? Luckily, I don’t have a slogan or a Sparkle Kitchen business card. What I do have is a great curry recipe.
Other leftovers from this weekend include red quinoa and six leftover smoked chicken thighs and drumsticks. I wasn’t sure how a curry would taste with the smoky flavor from the chicken, but the curry powder pleasantly overwhelmed any smoke flavor or spice rub on the chicken.
For the vegetable base, I used the leftover grilled vegetables, which amounted to about six stalks of asparagus, two summer squash, and half of a medium eggplant. I also had six large vine-ripened tomatoes wilting away sadly in the back of my refrigerator (my lofty weekend goals included homemade salsa). I roasted the tomatoes and about two cups of carrots with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper for about 45 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit to release the flavor.
I do not think that the mix of vegetables or the original cooking method matters too much. Use the precooked, steamed, roasted, or poached asparagus spears sitting limp in the back-corner of the fridge, the sauteed broccoli you made two nights ago that won’t go away, the never-ending zucchini from the garden that you ambitiously grilled too much of. Roast a few vegetables with neutral or mellow flavors (ahem, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) that you need to get to about eight cups total of vegetables. Add them all to a large pot and simmer for half an hour with low-sodium vegetable stock, then puree until you’ve got a consistency you like and add the spices.
Use a spicy red curry, or a yellow curry blend, if you can’t handle the heat. Add Thai bird chili if you’re feeling adventurous. The spice level will be somewhat tempered with peanut butter and Greek yogurt (or swap in coconut milk, if you’re a curry purist), and the beauty of a soup is that you can always add more on either end to adjust the spice scale.
Roasted Vegetable Curry Soup with Chicken and Quinoa
You will need:
- Approximately 8 cups cooked vegetables
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 cups red quinoa, cooked
- 1 cup spinach, fresh or canned
- 6 skin-on cooked chicken breasts, thighs, or drumsticks
- 1/3 cup hot red curry powder
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, a dollop of Greek yogurt, sliced avocado, crushed peanuts, and Thai chili oil.
- Add vegetable stock and cook, covered, on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken by removing the meat from the bones and cutting into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- It is much easier to separate the chicken from the bone when the meat is a bit warm. If you’re using leftovers, heat slightly in the microwave or place in the oven for a few minutes just to make the meat easier to manipulate.
- After the vegetables have simmered with the stock, remove the pot from heat and let cool for five minutes or so.
- Using an immersion blender will puree the mixture to a smooth consistency with a few chunkier bits here and there, which I prefer to a uniform texture. If you want an even consistency, use a blender or food processor to puree.
- Place pot back on the stove and set to medium heat. Add curry powder, peanut butter, and remaining spices and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally until peanut butter is fully incorporated into the vegetable base and no clumps remain.
- Add chicken, quinoa, and spinach.
- Let the mixture heat through (approximately ten minutes), then serve warm with desired garnishes.