Friday, March 30, 2012

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

I didn't expect to love this soup so much, but it kind of blew me away. The flavors were so fresh and bold. It was so good that for a brief moment, I could close my eyes and pretend I was at a Thai restaurant, a very casual one where I get to wear my Homer Simpson slippers. This soup had just the right amount of heat for me too (which means if you like things really spicy, you should probably pump up the volume when you make it). Of course it helped that I avoided actually swallowing any of the hot pepper pieces. So if you eat those, you'll be in business (I, on the other hand, would be filing bankruptcy on behalf of my aching tongue).

Serves 6

2 (14 oz.) cans light unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 stalks lemongrass, cut in half vertically and then into 4- to 5-inch pieces
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 serrano chili (or other hot pepper), sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon jaggery/coconut palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
2 teaspoons chili sauce (such as sambal or sriracha)
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced Thai basil (or basil)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1.      Combine coconut milk, broth, mushrooms, lemongrass, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, palm sugar and chili sauce in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.
2.      Add chicken; simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3.      Mix in green onions, basil and lime juice.
4.      Remove lemongrass before serving (or tell your guests not to eat it).

adapted from Bon Appétit, June 1998

Occasionally I see this at my supermarket, but I'm lucky
enough to live near a little produce store that sells a lot of
Asian and Latin ingredients. Their lemongrass is always
better than what they sell at the grocery store.
I chopped mine about 2"-3", but I recommend
chopping it 4"-5" (just to make it easier to remove).
ginger and jalapeño pepper (I couldn't find a serrano)
I was scared if I cut my pepper into rings and kept the
seeds/membranes, the soup would be too spicy for me.
So instead of rings, I just cut mine into large pieces.
adding fish sauce to coconut milk, lemongrass, garlic and ginger
mushrooms, sambal and hot pepper added

The mushrooms could have been sliced thinner, but I
bought them already sliced and wasn't about to try to slice the
slices thinner (I might as well stick my fingers in the paper
shredder and be done with it). I know I added the broth too,
but I think I forgot to take a photo of that.
I found this in the international section of my supermarket.
adding the jaggery
slicing the chicken

I could have sliced the chicken thinner
too, but it's hard (that stuff is slippery).
I bet this soup would taste good with tofu too.
adding the chicken (most of it sank)
chopping scallions
lime and basil leaves
adding the scallions
basil and lime juice added
 mixed and ready

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