Monday, April 9, 2012

Simple "Thai" Coconut Soup



So, I had this plan to make Thai Coconut Soup for dinner tonight. I looked up recipes and they all had some basic ingredients (chicken stock, coconut milk, lime juice, ginger, garlic) and then they had some hard to find ingredients (kafir lime leaves, fish sauce, Thai basil, Thai chillies, lemon grass). I decided I would go to the grocery store and see if I could find everything, and what I could substitute if I had to. I was able to find everything but the kafir lime leaves, Thai basil, and the Thai chillies. I improvised with that I had on hand and this is what I came up with. It is by no means a traditional Thai Coconut Soup, but it hits all the same bells and whistles. (That's why "Thai" is in quotes). :)

Here's what I used:
Ginger, lemon grass, unsweetened coconut milk, 1 can straw mushrooms, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, homemade chicken stock, onion, garlic, cooked chicken, lime juice, *cilantro
 - * not pictured

I first got the aromatics prepared. I peeled the ginger root. I think it's easiest to do this with the edge of a spoon. This way you don't lose any flesh of the ginger, just the skin. After it was peeled, I used 3 inches total - 2 inches chopped and 1 inch minced for this recipe; and I put the rest in a zip-top bag in the freezer for another time.

 I chopped the lemon grass and put it in my soup pot with 2 inches of the ginger (some I didn't even bother to peel, since it was the "fingers" of the ginger and they will get strained out later). -  I also added 4 smashed and peeled garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.
I then added 4 cups of my homemade chicken stock, and simmered for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, I strained out the aromatics.

 I then put the flavored stock back into the pot, and brought it up to a light boil. I added 1/2 an onion finely diced, about 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves.
 I also added: 3 Tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup lime juice, the reserved minced ginger, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (since I don't have Thai chillies - you could add more but I don't like to make it too spicy for the kids), 1 1/2 tsp dry basil (since I don't have Thai basil) . . . .
1 can of straw mushrooms, drained, and 1 1/2 tsp sugar.
When the onions were soft (about 10 -15 minutes later), I added 2 cans of unsweetened coconut milk, 2 cups of cooked chicken (you could add raw diced chicken here, but you would need to cook an additional 2-5 minutes for it to be cooked through), and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil. It's done!
 I served it with some extra cilantro leaves and lime wedges on the side. (I like a lot of lime!)
 If you like it spicy, some hot chili oil would be nice too.
 Here's the recipe:

Simple "Thai" Coconut Soup

1 stalk lemon grass chopped
3 inches of ginger root, peeled (2 inches chopped, 1 inch minced)
4 cloves smashed and peeled garlic cloves
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 onion finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, divided
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 8 oz can straw mushrooms, drained
2 13.5 - 14 oz cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cups chicken, chopped or shredded

Chop the lemon grass and put into a soup pot with 2 inches of peeled and chopped ginger, garlic and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Return the stock to the pot and bring up to a light boil. Add onion, cilantro, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, lime juice, and mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft (10-15 minutes). Then add the coconut milk, chicken and sesame oil. (If using raw chicken, simmer for 2-5 minutes until chicken is cooked through.) Serve with lime wedges, cilantro leaves and hot chili oil (optional).

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