It was going to be a very cold New Year’s Eve – and hot soup and home-made bread were going to be the perfect foil.
JFI for this month is featuring the coconut, and I did want to make something specifically for the event. Thai soup with a coconut milk base seemed like the perfect solution. Except that, as mentioned earlier, TH has no taste for fish sauce. So I was going to have to make two versions: one (the real McCoy) with and one without the fish sauce. And since it was going to be so, there was no reason why the first one should not have some chicken as well.
It is a real quick soup to make. Depending where you live, you may need to plan the grocery shopping a little bit. I can find everything under the sun at the INA market in New Delhi. If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves you may use other lime/lemon leaves or use lemon zest. Fish sauce is not optional, but if you have religious reasons (or strong dislike of ‘strange’ smells, like TH), use plain salt instead. Just don’t call it Thai soup, in that case.
The soup is so very aromatic and spicy: the tang of the lemon, the fragrant lemon leaves and lemon grass combine with the spicy-ness of galangal and peppercorns, and the sweetness of the coconut to provide the perfect warmth you need on a cold winter evening. Served with a crisp salad and toasted and generously buttered home-made brown bread, it was a happy welcome to the New Year.
Thai Chicken Soup
(adapted from The Ultimate Chinese and Asian Cookbook, edited by Linda Doeser)
3 cups coconut milk (extracted from 2 C of grated coconut)
3 C water or stock
8” stalk of lemon grass, bruised and chopped
1’ piece of galangal, sliced thin
10 black peppercorns , crushed
10 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 C thin strips of chicken
1/2 C cooked brown rice Goan or Kerala red rice (optional)
juice of half a lemon
4 T fish sauce
chopped spring onions and coriander, to garnish
Bring the water or stock to boil. Add the lemon grass, galangal, peppercorns and half of the kaffir lime leaves. Simmer gently for 10 min. Drain and throw the aromatics that have done their job. Return to heat and add the coconut milk, the chicken and the cooked brown rice. Sliced mushrooms and baby corn are also ideal to be included in this soup (but I didn’t have any that day). Cook for a few minutes till the chicken is cooked. Stir in the lemon juice, fish sauce, and remaining kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with sliced red chillies, spring onions and coriander.
TH didn’t care much for his vegetarian ‘version’ – it reminded him of Odomos. Mosquito repellant! The gall! No ‘special’ Thai soup for him. Ever. In all fairness though, Odomos does use Citronella as an active ingredient! 🙂
And I kept the left-over soup in the fridge content in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to have to share it with anyone!
Over to Ashwini, who is hosting the Coconut-JFI this month.