Do you need a holiday timeout? When we are in the eye of the storm, aka the lull between December holidays, it helps to step off the conveyor belt of planning, cooking, baking and entertaining. Take a break and fix something easy, healthy and decidedly not holiday-inspired. Make a fragrant warming curry and call it a culinary break.

I use the term “curry” loosely since this recipe is hardly authentic. An authentic curry consists of a mountain of whole spices and aromatics, carefully and lovingly toasted, ground, sauteed and coaxed to create a potent paste that forms the base of a stew, which simmers for an ample amount of time to infuse its flavor. (I highly recommend doing this, by the way, but suggest you wait until after the holidays.)

This yellow curry rendition gets its name thanks to a generous shortcut dump of curry powder into the soup, which, in the category of quick meals, does the trick. It’s a healthy soup, brimming with vegetables and thickened with coconut milk, and it’s a one-pot wonder, prepared in about 30 minutes. During a month of roasts, bakes, sauces and icings, this soup is a spicy and refreshing hiatus, guaranteed to warm and restore before you get back to the business of planning and making that big holiday dinner.

Curried Chicken Stew

Serves 4 to 6


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 to 1¼ pounds chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large carrot, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, chopped

1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice

15-ounce can coconut milk (not light)

2 cups coarsely chopped curly green kale, Tuscan kale or spinach leaves (tough stems removed)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

1 red or green jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide pot or deep skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot in one layer without overcrowding. Cook over medium heat until the chicken colors on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, turning as needed. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. (The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point. It will continue to cook when added to the stew.)

Add 1 tablespoon oil and the onion to the same pot. Saute over medium heat until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and peppers and saute until the carrot brightens in color and the peppers begin to soften, about 3 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander, stirring to coat the vegetables and lightly toast the spices for about 15 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes, coconut milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.


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