2020, a look back: Thai noodle soup

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing New Year’s Eve by clicking on the post title.


In January 2020, we worried about our traveling friends and the brushfires near Sydney, Australia, growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Britain’s upcoming Brexit, and the the report of a new virus in Wuhan, China. Who could have predicted what the rest of the year would bring. It’s difficult to look back on 2020 with any degree of fondness. It was a year of rolling disasters: an impeachment, the killing of Floyd George and the ensuing social upheaval, the raging fires up and down the West coast, the bitter, acrimonious presidential election followed by the refusal of a petulant tyrant to admit defeat, and a global pandemic that seems to have no end. I should at least be bruised or battered but here I am, cozy, well-fed and comfortable—life is indeed not fair.

2020 Bright spots:

  • Sweetie’s wildflowers
  • Grosbeak pair who stayed around until July
  • Dodgers’ World Series win
  • Boston Harbor
  • Gas fireplaces
  • Dr. Fauci
  • Neighborly chats with the Fros
  • Cordless steam irons
  • New bowls
  • Screen doors
  • Soft, beautiful throws
  • New puppies
  • Blog comments
  • Dave Barry and David Sedaris
  • Morning visits with Ginny
  • Nighttime snuggles with the Sweetie
  • Russell Wilson
  • Groovicorns

Not-so-bright spots:

  • Colonoscopies
  • Dental implants
  • Pandemic
  • Murder hornets
  • The hunt for toilet paper
  • Anyone Trump
  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Commercials telling me, “We’re all in this together”
  • No more Salted Caramel Gelato at TJs

So, my bright list far outweighs the not-so-bright list. And there you have it: my family and friends are healthy, my refrigerator is full, I spend my days with someone I love dearly, my sister lives close by, my kids are kind and successful in all ways, my grandchildren are generous and happy, the family is adding babies to the blend—I have so many things to be thankful for. Here’s looking at you, 2021. 

Favorite recipe of the year.

Thai chicken noodle soup

  • 1 cup cooked shredded chicken 
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 tsp sesame oil 
  • Kosher salt 
  • ½ lb rice noodles (I also have used both udon and ramen—cooked separately and added at the end)
  • 1/2 onion, diced 
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced 
  • ½ lb mushrooms, diced 
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic 
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger 
  • 1 tbsp minced lemongrass (I rarely have lemongrass but I’m sure it would be good)
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste or panang curry paste (try a little more if you like spicy)
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar 
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk (don’t worry if the coconut milk is solid at the top. Just pour it in a bowl & whisk)
  • 1 ½ qt chicken stock 
  • 3 limes, juiced 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • Garnishes: Thinly sliced scallions, cilantro leaves, lime wedges 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rice noodles one minute less than the package’s instructions. Drain the noodles and run under cold water. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion and shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until tender and slightly caramelized. Season with a pinch of salt. 

Add the carrots and mushrooms. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook for a minute until fragrant. 

Add the red curry paste and stir well to combine. Whisk in the coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes, stirring often. 

Stir in the shredded chicken and cooked rice noodles to heat through. Taste for salty, sweet, sour, hot balance and add where necessary. Right before serving, stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Serve the soup hot with scallions, cilantro leaves, and a squeeze of lime.

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4 Responses to 2020, a look back: Thai noodle soup

  1. Bridget Salem Batchelor says:

    Great post, Mom! Love the lists and photos! Think we’ll give the soup a try during our ABQ visit.

  2. Jenni says:

    Happy 2021 from your old neighborhood, Marla! Your blig has been a bright spot for my 2020, and I thank you for it.

  3. Jenni says:

    Make that “blog”!

  4. Ginny says:

    The perfect end to a “not so perfect” year

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