Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup

It’s soup season again. I’m hoping to perfect making large pots of warming soups and stews with crusty homemade breads from scratch in the months ahead as it turns colder. I’m quite proud of this Thai soup I made last night that tasted authentic to my memory of savoring it at an excellent Baltimore Thai restaurant.

I got the idea to make this while shopping an Asian/International grocery store. I find these markets to have so much greater a variety of produce at reasonable prices. I get excited and dumbfounded by all the exotic and unfamiliar foods I have yet to try here.

asian-mkt

It was the lemongrass stalks that grabbed me with their fragrance. I’ve bought them for juicing before but had never actually cooked with them. They are very fibrous and stringy and can be eaten if sliced up very thinly and cooked down, but really it’s preferable to chop them into large chunks, bend/crush them slightly (like a clove of garlic) to let them release their flavor, then remove them before serving.

thai coconut soup

Ingredients:

1 box of chicken broth (4 cups)
2 cans of coconut milk
1″ of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped in 2 inch pieces
Juice of 2 limes (1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 small green Thai pepper, deseeded and finely diced
Dashes of Tobasco green pepper sauce (used as a substitute for Chili Garlic sauce)
2 thin chicken breasts sliced into pieces
1 lb. of shrimp
handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 vine ripened tomato diced
chopped cilantro for garnish

  • Pour chicken broth into a sauce pot over medium high heat an bringing to a simmer.
  • Grate in a 1″ piece of peeled ginger into the pot.
  • Cut the lemongrass stalks into 2″ pieces and bend it slightly to unlock the flavor. If you have a tea diffuser ball or herb sachet you could let it brew in the broth and remove it when ready to serve, as it’s not pleasant to eat unless chopped very finely and boiled down.
  • Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, pepper/tobasco and agave to broth. Simmer at a low boil for about 5 minutes. The ingredients in this soup don’t need to cook long. Much of the cook time is to marry the flavors of the broth.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.. chicken, mushrooms, shrimp, tomato allowing meat to cook, another 5 minutes.
  • Remove lemongrass stalks from soup, ladle into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.
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