Sunday Dinner: Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

I think I have mentioned this before on this blog, but it is worth restating: I love having Sunday night dinners with my wife. First it is one of the few nights during the week where we are both home for dinner. Second it is usually a day spent around the house, which means I have time to cook. Finally, and most importantly, the time allows us to connect before the craziness of a new week begins.

I had actually been thinking about Sunday night dinner a lot through the week, because the week prior we had Thai Green Curry, which called for lemongrass. I had quite a bit left, so I began looking for a recipe, specifically a coconut, lemongrass soup with chicken. Searching the internet yielded no results that grabbed my attention and whetted my appetite, so I finally turned to my most trustworthy cooking companion: Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. (Again, this also bears worth repeating, this is a must have cookbook/resource for any home cook.)

The soup was easy to prepare yet with flavors that could convince guests you had spent days in the kitchen. The soup was simultaneously sweet, spicy, sour, and savory. It was incredibly rich from the coconut milk. We enjoyed the soup with a fresh baked baguette. A simple salad would also be great with the soup as there are not a lot of vegetables in the soup.

Here is the recipe from How to Cook Everything, found on page 149.

Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups coconut milk (I actually used only 3 cups to cut down on the fat)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I used 2 cups)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, breast or thigh, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed, and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 10 nickel-sized slices fresh ginger (I used chopped ginger that I keep in the fridge)
  • 2 fresh chiles, preferably Thai, seeded and minced, or hot red pepper flakes, to taste (I used Serrano chiles)
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps or button mushrooms (I bought ½ pound of shiitakes and had more than enough)
  • 3 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Procedure

  1. Combine the coconut milk and stock in a large, deep pot of medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, add the chicken, and simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. add the lemongrass, ginger, and chiles; simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the larger pieces of spices (I actually strained the chiles as the broth was getting very spicy). Return the chicken to the pot along with the mushrooms and heat about 3 minutes. At this point, you can let the soup sit for a few hours or refrigerate, covered, for up to a day before reheating and proceeding.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the nam pla, lime juice, and sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust the seasonings, adding more nam pla, lime juice, or sugar. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.

I also put out lime wedges. I also think that some sliced red onion would be a nice garnish for flavor, color and a slight textural change.

Bon appétit!

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