Last summer I was craving some lazy, pre-sliced mango from Whole Foods. When they didn’t have any lazy mango for me, I told myself it’s not the end of the world, I can buy a whole mango and slice it myself. But when they didn’t have mangos… at least not what I knew of mangos – those red/green roundish fruit – I was nearly defeated. I had to buy one of these yellow things they called some sort of mango I’ve never heard of and…
I’ve never looked back. I hunted these things down, at Whole Foods, at Uwajimaya, since they don’t seem to be sold in everyday grocery stores. I made my own “pre-sliced” mango to eat at work. If I was to convert this to a recipe it would look like:
I even found out what that weird curved knife in the knife block was for, other than ‘that knife you use when all the others are dirty’.
Well mango season must be back because I was excited to see these on display at Whole Foods and immediately grabbed up a couple. But just a couple days before I also bought an everyday old mango at Safeway because they were on sale and I thought ‘why not?’
Well Everyday Old Mango was starting to look kind of shriveled and even less appealing than Yummy Yellow Mango so tonight’s dinner started out as a ‘how can I use this stuff up before it goes bad?’ search and ended with an amazing discovery – Curried Mango Chicken Soup.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 mangos, peeled, flesh cut away from the pits, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche, plus extra for garnish
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
One of the biggest cooking tragedies is to plan a meal around a certain item, build yourself up to the idea, and after you’re showered and pajama’ed with no intentions of going back out, to find out you don’t have it. (This is surpassed mostly by the experience of pouring yourself a nice bowl of cereal and finding out the milk’s gone bad.)
I was sure I had a can of chicken broth, as well as the leftovers in the fridge, instead of leftovers being that can I was thinking of. I ended up trying to do a vague thirding of the recipe, since I only had one mango anyway, and figured I’d end up with more of a mango curry chicken stew than soup (which is assuming that stew is just a less soupy kind of soup.) Actually what I did came out perfectly, with only one cup of chicken broth, to make a single serving bowl.
This then became known as the recipe where I used every cutting board in the kitchen. Because first I peeled the mango to make sure it was still good before going any further.
Mango peeled but not yet chopped.
Then the chicken… I keep saying I hate working with raw chicken and it’s still true. I was about to compliment the chicken pieces I had for being small and easy to work with until I realized I had accidentally bought breast tenders. They always have this strip of tendon or something going through the middle (I assume that’s the ‘tend’ in ‘tender’). Do people actually eat this or is it just my aversion to “icky bits” that has an issue with it? After some careful chopping this is what I came up with.
All icky bits removed.
Instead of a large onion I used a very small onion, which required a third cutting board that was neither contaminated by chicken or mango juice.
With more careful planning this could have been all one cutting board, but then again that’s why we have a dishwasher.
I also have no creme fraiche, but I decided, before seeing their own suggestion to do so, to use coconut milk in its place.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the curry powder and cinnamon, then heat for 30 seconds.
Thirding teaspoons is too complicated so I went with 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in a drizzle of oil. This smelled amazing when it started to cook.
- Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion as well as any oil and seasonings in the pan to a blender. Add the mango and 1 cup of the broth to the blender, then purée until smooth. Set aside.
I used 1/4 cup of broth, just enough to add some liquid. We don’t actually own a real blender so the immersion blender gets used for everything these days.
It excels at turning things into a goopy mess.
- Return the empty saucepan to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and saute until browned and cooked through. Add the remaining broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits and seasonings. Bring to a simmer.
It didn’t look like it would be a lot, until seeing how much soup the liquid mango goop would add.
- Pour the mango purée back into the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
For the record, a “gentle simmer” shouldn’t bubble out of the pan and hurt you. The soup and I needed to have a discussion about what “gentle” means, before I turned down the heat.
- Stir in the creme fraiche and lime juice, then season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with cilantro and an extra dollop of creme fraiche (if desired).
I added 1/4 of (lite) coconut milk… and then another 1/4 cup for the “garnish”, because coconut milk is good, and “lite” coconut milk is just watered down normal coconut milk. In fact you can save money by buying coconut milk and watering it down yourself, but we can never even use up a whole can in time once it’s been opened. I now need coconut milk recipes in the next few days or the rest of the can is being wasted.
I was really, really impressed at what came out of a throw-together meal. The only issue with my variations is it was light on the chicken, the actual chunky bits that make soup feel like a meal. Then I realized I could just cook up the rest of the chicken I had. I rescued the tenders from their fate in the freezer – to sit frozen until too old to remember if they’re too old to eat and be thrown out (it feels less wasteful than to admit this and throw them out at the start) – extra cold but not frozen. I cooked the chicken in the pan the same as before, adding some cinnamon for flavor, and then just dumped it all in the bowl.