October 10, 2018 – Yeah, I know. I’ve written about chicken curry already. This recipe is not the same.
And yeah, I know the title is a corny alliteration. Something to be avoided in writing whenever possible. Considered flashy and too clever by far.
But it was my mother’s birthday. Though she’s been gone for two years, I felt like celebrating. And she was flashy. She was clever. She was colorful. She squeezed every bit of life from each minute she was given here with us.
Mother loved being the center of attention. I often teased her, telling her she would join any club that let her be president. She laughed at that and admitted it was true. Mother liked to be in charge. So do I.
Mother loved to entertain. She gave great parties. So do I. For many years, I hosted the only Mardi Gras party in Anchorage, shipping live crawfish up from New Orleans and eventually finding the only Dixieland jazz band in Alaska.
Every year I named someone king or queen of Mardi Gras. I never saw Mother more proud than the year she was queen. And never was a reign more elegant.
In Baton Rouge, I hosted a cochon de lait, a pig roast, each fall. Given that both of us wanted to be in charge, I had to find something for her to do. Potato salad, I thought. Mother made the world’s best potato salad. That became her responsibility. Potato salad for fifty guests.
God help you if you didn’t eat her potato salad! She kept a close eye on how much the guests put on their plates as they passed through the line. She was even known to wander through the tables to check plates. If she noticed a plate with what appeared to be too much of her potato salad left on it, the diner could expect to hear, “What’s the matter? You don’t like my potato salad?”
And I know she was proud of me. I never saw her more so than when I sent her the manuscript of my first novel. She was already gone when The Empty Mint Mystery was published but I can feel her delight. And now, with Neighbors and Other Strangers due to be released within the next few weeks, I can see her face beaming with that irresistible smile.
My mother was colorful and fun. I miss her. And it was her birthday. I wanted to celebrate.
She always supported my heuristic nature, especially when it comes to food. I want to experiment, to prepare new dishes myself. When I was in the kitchen she was happy to play a supporting role as I tried new things.
This year I decided to make a chicken curry soup. Curry isn’t a spice with which I’ve had a lot of experience but I had some on hand. I had the breasts from a roast chicken. Why not?
So I celebrated my mother’s birthday with a French 75 and a pot of exotic soup. She would have enjoyed the evening.
Chicken Curry Soup
6 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
3 small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 cups stock
6 sprigs parsley
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 cup half & half or heavy cream
12 ounces frozen green peas
Salt & pepper to taste
In a stock pot with a heavy bottom, melt the butter. Saute’ the onion and potatoes seasoned with the curry powder and brown sugar. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for about fifteen minutes. Give the vegetables a stir around the halfway mark.
Add the chicken, parsley, rice, and stock. Bring the liquid to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for about half an hour.
Stir in the half and half, or cream, with the peas. Adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer for another fifteen minutes.
And happy birthday, Mother!