Spontaneous One-Bowl Chicken Coconut Soup (gluten free)

Today is an awesome day; it is days like this that make the bone chilling cold and mind-numbing darkness of the Minnesota winter worth it.  The sun is shining, a gentle breeze is in the air, and it will be about 80*.   I woke up and cleaned up the house, rocked it at yoga, then went to my acupuncturist and had an awesome treatment.  By the time I got home, a little after noon, I was freakishly hungry.  As I walked past the little Vietnamese neighborhood restaurants on the way to my apartment, feeling the warm sun on my shoulders and a grumble in my tummy, I was very tempted to stop in and get a steaming bowl of phở  to eat at a sidewalk table - but I resisted.

My fridge is FULL of food.  I went to the farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday over the lunch hour and got a ton of kohlrabi (I'm going to pickle some!), collards, and sugar snap peas.  Then after work, I went to my garden space at my friend Amy's house, and harvested a huge bag of kale, chard, and herbs.  Combined with my trip to the grocery store earlier in the week, and yesterday's end-of-week food handouts from the food photo shoots at work, my fridge is fuller than it has been in ages.  It looks like I'm feeding a family of 4.  To top it off, I had leftovers: a little bag of leftover mung bean sprouts, a few little heads of almost wilty bok choy, and chicken drumsticks and stock from the other day. I love homemade chicken stock - after picking the meat off the drumsticks, I put the bones and skin back in the slow cooker with more water and herbs.  Oh, the stock was so nourishing and delicious; I find very few things as nourishing as a cup of homemade chicken stock.
After pondering my undeniable desire for pho, and the large bowl of stock sitting in my fridge, I  decided to concoct my own little southeast Asian-style soup using my leftover chicken meat and some of the other goodies from my fridge like creamed coconut, fresh basil, homemade sauerkraut, and mung bean sprouts.  Ooh, so good!  This is the best way to use up wilty bok choy and leftover chicken thus far.  The vegetables are just cooked until tender, the chicken is tender, and the broth is rich and coconutty.  This basic idea would work with any kind of leftover vegetables, meat, or soy-based proteins like tempeh or tofu.  Just make sure you have some good meat or vegetable stock to use as your base, and you'll have an awesome meal in 10 minutes flat.  If you can eat ginger root, a little fresh grated ginger added while heating the stock would be delicious!
What a perfect lunch.  It is the perfect thing to carry me through the rest of the day; later this afternoon, I heading over to Rock the Garden, an annual music festival held in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the always-fabulous Walker Art Center.  If I had to choose between food and music as my top passion/obsession, it would be a hard choice; both feed me in very important, albeit different, ways.  Local act Solid Gold will be kicking off the evening, followed by Yeasayer, Calexico, and the Decemberists.  I can't wait!  Good thing I'll have a bowl of chicken soup in my belly, because goodness knows there will be very little - if anything - to eat at the food vendor carts at the festival.  It is these type of events - 7+ hours, outside, no carry-ins allowed - that are especially challenging for those of us with restrictions.  I plan on sneaking in some snacks in my bag, and I am hoping they don't get confiscated at the entrance! : )   
Last year I made it in to Rock the Garden with a bunch of vegetables and some chicken.  But by about 8 pm, major hunger and low blood sugar drove me to order a hamburger with grilled onion sans bun out of desperation.  This year I plan to sneak in a bag of baby carrots, an AllerEnergy bar, some sunflower seeds, and some backup meal-replacement protein powder just in case.  Who knows - there might be something there I could eat after all.  I know there was Chipotle last year, as well as a local Middle-Eastern place - so I might be able to find some unadulterated meat, rice, or whatever vegetables might be around for garnish.  And if worst comes to worst, I can always sneak out between acts and ride my bike over to the co-op down the street to grab dinner.   Regardless, I'm not going to starve, and it will be a great time.  Heck, maybe I'll be so distracted by rad music and my awesome posse of friends that I won't need to eat!  If only I really believed that would happen....  
If you aren't going to Rock the Garden here in Minneapolis, blast some tunes through your window and rock it out with your favorite posse in your own garden.  I hope your day is going as wonderfully as mine, and enjoy the summer sun!  With this soup in your belly, it is bound to be a good day.
serves 1
1 1/2 c chicken stock or other meat/vegetable stock or broth
chunk of creamed coconut
4 oz chicken or other meat or soy-based protein
1 c broccoli (or other vegetable)
2 small baby bok choy (or other leafy green), sliced thin - about 1 c
1 handful mung bean sprouts
1/4 c sauerkraut or kim chee
sea salt
fresh basil
  1. Steam broccoli (or vegetable of choice) until just tender.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat stock until just boiling to kill off any bacteria that might have grown sitting in your fridge.  Turn down to low, and add creamed coconut and a pinch of sea salt and stir until dissolved..  Add protein and bok choy and heat until just warmed through.  
  3. Pour soup into bowl, adding steamed broccoli, bean sprouts, sauerkraut, and torn up fresh basil leaves.
  4. Eat immediately!