Thai Chicken Coconut Milk Soup

This past Sunday, I cooked up a whole bonanza feast of Thai goodies for dinner. It was Father's Day here in the US, so I had my parents over for dinner with us. We had a nice family dinner together.

Dear Hubby requested the Thai spread, so I obliged. It required a special trip to the Asian market for galangal and kaffir lime leaves. However, you can get the other ingredients from typical supermarkets. By the way, galangal looks like ginger, but does not taste or smell like ginger. It's hard to explain what it actually tastes like by itself. You just have to go get some and taste it firsthand.

I made Shrimp Pad Thai, Yellow Curry with Pork, Mango, and Bell Pepper, this soup, and jasmine rice. This batch of soup was very mild since my folks aren't big spicy/hot food eaters. I tossed one chili into the pot but left it whole so I wouldn't impart any heat. I left out the mushrooms because I don't do mushrooms.

Tom Kha Gai
1 can chicken stock
2 stems lemon grass
2 inches galangal
3 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
3/4-1 lb white meat chicken, diced
1 teaspoon salt
juice of one lime
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cans coconut milk
3-4 green bird's-eye chilis, sliced into thin rounds (if you like it SPICY)
1/2 cup canned straw mushrooms, with the tough outer casing skin removed (optional)

1. Bruise the lemon grass stalks by hitting them with the back of your knife or pounding them with meat tenderizer.  Cut off the rooty bottom end and discard the outermost layer of leaves.  Slice into large chunks, about 1-2 inches in length. Cut galangal into large chunks.

2. Put chicken stock in a soup pot. Add the lime leaves, lemon grass and galangal.  Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer about 5 minutes to extract the most flavor.

3. Add the raw chicken, mushrooms (if you're using them, not me!), salt, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar.  Cook about 10 minutes at a low simmer. Make sure the chicken is cooked through before proceeding to step 4.

4. Add the coconut milk and chilis (if you're using them) and bring up to a boil. Stir frequently. If you boil for too long, the coconut milk will separate and get curdled looking.

5. Serve and enjoy! This soup is pretty plain looking, very Monochromatic. You may want to toss some chopped cilantro or scallions on top for some color and extra flavor.

Note: You could prepare the soup base through step 3 and freeze it for later.  Then thaw, bring to a boil and add the coconut milk and chilis from step 4 when you are ready to consume it. This was pretty tasty, but very simple. I think next time we will use less chicken and add some other vegetables to the soup so there is more variety. I know carrots and potatoes aren't traditionally in this soup, but I'm thinking they would taste good in it.


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