Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thai Chicken Soup

This recipe is an attempted copy of my favorite take-out soup of all time, the chicken-lemongrass soup from Swing Thai. My first year in Denver I ordered this at least three times a week (I hadn't adjusted to the winter yet, and really didn't want to leave my apartment. Once I ran out of dog food and ordered Consuela a "side of sliced beef" from Swing Thai to avoid walking to the liquor store for kibble.)
Swing Thai's soup is seriously the best Tom Kha I've ever tasted. I ordered bowls of it all over Bangkok a few years ago, and theirs was way better. I took a cooking class in Chang Mai where you learned the recipe--but it was nothing like Swing Thai's perfect, transcendent Tom Kha.
Cooking class, summer of 2009. I successfully unwound after my first year of charter-school teaching--but didn't find the secret to coconut soup.
So this recipe is a delicious, doable version--it doesn't have the same magic, but it's still incredibly good. Spicy, sweet, tangy, and rich. Loaded with crunchy veggies, soft chunks of chicken, fresh herbs. A really perfect dinner. I mean, how could any recipe with ginger, garlic, coconut milk and veggies be anything but fantasic?
I made a big pot tonight--Sunday--for dinner this week. I recommend making a LOT--you will want leftover, and if you're tackling a recipe with this many ingredients, one night of eating isn't a big enough pay off.
Soup over rice. 
This recipe makes a LARGE pot of soup--Serves 10, or 2 people all week. Use a large pot ( I used my 7.5 quart French oven)

Ingredients (in order of addition to the pot)

2 tablespoons olive oil (or any oil)
a 3-inch piece of ginger
2 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon Thai green curry pasty
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
3 large chicken breasts, cut into half-inch chunks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 32oz boxes of chicken stock (or homemade, if you have it---I was out. Must roast a chicken sometime soon. I also prefer the low-sodium)
2 cans of coconut milk (do NOT use "light"--if you're worried about fat, use just one can of regular)
2 red peppers, diced
3 jalapenos, diced (I left the seeds in, for heat. Either de-seed or omit jalapenos for a mild soup)
1 red onion, sliced into strips
2 handfuls of white mushrooms, cut in half
2 handfuls of snow peas, whole
1 bunch of cilantro
1 package of basil (gah it felt so sad buying basil--I miss the garden!) pick off the leaves and leave them whole
2 tablespoons fish sauce
soy sauce to taste
juice of 3 limes

(Whew! Lots of ingredients! But you won't have to cook again all week, and a delicious healthy-ish dinner will be ready to go. This could easily be made vegetarian by subbing tofu of a couple cans of chickpeas for the chicken--but I don't think you can omit the fish sauce--so this might only work for slacker / cheater vegetarians)

What to do
1. Start by making your flavor base. Put the shallots, ginger, garlic, curry paste, and lemongrass paste into a food processor. Blitz them into a smooth paste.
I used my trusty tub of Mae Ploy. 2 lbs! Doubt I'll need to buy curry paste again in my 30's. 
Lemongrass paste.
2. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pot. Fry the flavor base paste in the oil for a few minutes--this really brings out the flavors and fragrances. 

3. While the base is frying, cut up the chicken. Drizzle it with a few tablespoons of soy sauce (it just seems wrong to cook unsalted chicken). 
Raw chicken looks weird. 
3. Add the chicken to the pot and cook it with the flavor-paste, stirring regularly. 
4. Add both boxes of stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down. Leave for 15 minutes or so at a simmer. This will allow the chicken to cook through and for the garlic, ginger, shallot, and lemongrass to infuse the stock. 
5. While that's simmering, cut up your veggies--dice the peppers and jalapenos, slice the onions, halve the mushrooms. 

6. Open the pot. Add both cans of coconut milk and the veggies. You want the veggies to cook gently-poach--in the broth, so they retain flavor and crunch. Let the veggies bob around in the simmering broth for about 5 minutes, stirring. 
7. Turn the heat off. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste--does it need more soy, lime, fish sauce? Season to taste.
8. Add the chopped cilantro and leaves of basil. 
9. Mix everything up. Serve over rice! I like mine with some extra chili-garlic paste, but that's because I love far more heat than the regular person. 

This is a wonderful, perfect dinner.

No comments:

Post a Comment