Same Fridge, Different Day


I had nothing but time last Thursday night to dream up something for dinner. Andy was traveling, the girls were out at their various sporting pursuits until after 7:30, and both were getting rides home from friends, so it was me, an end-of-the-week fridge, and a luxurious sixty minutes to work with. I opened the refrigerator door.

Cobwebs.

How, I asked myself, as I always do, HOW did we drop all that cash at Trader Joe’s on Sunday and end up with a completely barren kitchen only days later? In these cases, I wonder whether it wouldn’t've been wiser to spend the bucks on that pretty spring scarf I’ve been ogling, instead of on the grass-fed beef — at least the scarf would still be here. A wave of total resignation washed over me.

We ended up going out to dinner, girls in shin guards and practice jerseys. But I didn’t feel good about it. We pretty much always go out on Friday or Saturday, so as we were all mauling the spider roll, I told them This is our night out, ok? Tomorrow, dinner at home

Tomorrow came. Same fridge. Same sixty minutes. Yet this time, it was like I was wearing my magic weekend goggles or something. Three stray chicken thighs from the freezer, a hunk of ginger, half a bag of soba noodles in the pantry, and David Tanis’s column lodged somewhere in my consciousness. It was like Christmas Day. Nothing but bounty. Where were all of you characters 24 hours ago?

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

3 or 4 chicken thighs, salted and peppered (but breasts are fine, too)
2 tablespoons oil (preferably neutral, but olive oil is fine, too)
1/2 onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, halved
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled, minced
1/4 teaspoon Thai curry paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
handful soba or udon noodles (to taste)
whatever vegetables you’ve got, chopped (I used carrots and broccoli, but you can also use snow peas, greens, bok choy, peppers)
1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
1/2 cup coconut milk (light or regular)
fresh squeeze of lime and cilantro for garnish (I only had chives, but wished I had cilantro)

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, brown chicken in olive oil, about 3 minutes a side. (Chicken does not have to be cooked through.) Remove from pot, turn heat to medium-low, add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until soft. Remove garlic halves and smush in Thai curry paste until blended.

Chop or pull apart chicken, then add it back to the pot along with broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Add noodles then vegetables in shifts (with firmer ones, like carrots, going in earlier than tender ones, like greens) and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Whisk in miso and coconut milk. Serve topped with lime and cilantro.

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18 Comments

Lea @ HeyThereWonder

Tonight I’m MacGyvering my fridge scraps into tortilla soup! I have the carcass of a garlicky, cuminy Peruvian roast chicken hanging around. Great minds. Glad to have this recipe in my back pocket for when the leftovers take a Thai bent.

Reply
The Prestigious School

What a beautiful looking recipe. Sometimes we are just too tired to create. It frustrates me, but sometimes I just need to accept that a good night sleep will do more for my productivity than anything else I could do.

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Heather

Yum! This sounds delicious. Too funny how the contents of the fridge haven’t changed, but the mood to come up with something to cook does.

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Sonya Terjanian

Hmmm…I think we just missed each other at Sushi Mikes… BTW, have you tried Pepperplate? It’s been a complete game-changer for us. No more awkward end-of-the-week fridge situations. You enter all your recipes into the calendar (along with notes about who’s going to be home), and it creates your Sunday shopping list (organized by aisle) with one click. It also sizes recipes up or down as needed. Perfect for my OCD cooking style. (Pierre, not so much.)

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Robin

Don’t you just love those epiphany moments? I love when I come up with something so creatively brilliant that my family has no idea that it’s from last night’s leftovers!

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Barbara

This sounds so good, and I love scrap-the-fridge recipes because we always find ourselves in similar situations.

When do you add the curry paste – with the garlic and ginger? I didn’t see it in the instructions…

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Kara

Yes, when do you add the curry paste? I completely missed that step because I did not see it in the instructions. It was not until later that night I was looking at the curry paste and thought, “I was supposed to do something with this…”.

The soup was still delicious though and a perfect way to use up one of my least favorite veggies…bok choi.

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Margit Van Schaick

Variations of this idea ca help you out anytime. Usually there’s enough veggies in the crisper to form the basis for flavor. Add a cubed potato or two, or left-over rice, or pasta(I love De Cecco’s”acini de Pepe”). It’s a great idea to have some frozen organic chicken legs/ thighs for recipes like this. ,,

.

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Leigh

Funny. I made the almost exact thing Tuesday night, but added a tbs of peanut butter, fish sauce and a little brown sugar.

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Carlin

This was a dinner-saver for us! Empty fridge, no time to get to the store, but, voila! Actual dinner, and delicious, to boot! Using up the odds and ends was an added bonus. Waste not, want not. Thanks for the inspiration.

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Nicole @ thejameskitchen

Most of the time all of these things are lurking in our fridge / freezer / larder at the middle of the week – that’s our blind spot – so pasta or rice with xyz & some weekend leftovers in tomato sauce is the result or all gets thrown in a taco with beans & guacamole. Delicious but repetitive. The soup looks really enjoyable and will be a break in the rut!
BUT, dear Jenny, wasn’t there supposed to be a print button once? If not, wouldn’t it be nice?
Happy birthday, Nicole

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