Friday, April 17, 2009

Thai Chicken Soup

I am always happy to discover new twists on chicken soup and came across a recipe in a December '08 Sunset Magazine while at the car dealership, (long story!).  This, I tell you, is so good, so easy and so full of flavor.  To prove, not only how easy it is, but also how delicious, I made it last night for the family I work for and made it again today so I could have a big pot for the weekend.

If you have 45 minutes, I suggest making this soup with chicken breasts (or thighs) with bone in, skin removed.  If, however, you are short on time, go ahead with boneless skinless chicken breasts and a few cups of chicken broth.  I am going to give you the long version.  To skip this method and cut cooking time in half, just bring broth (2 cups), coconut milk (2 cans), garlic, ginger and lemongrass to a boil, add mushrooms.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add raw, cubed chicken, cook covered for about 15 minutes, add sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro and lime wedge. (Toss lemongrass).  For an extended and deeper flavor version, see below:

Thai Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)
Adapted from Sunset Magazine, Dec. 2008.
Serves 4-6

1 drizzle canola 0r extra virgin sesame oil
4 Organic chicken breasts, or 8 thighs - bone in, skin removed
2 1/2 cups water, approx.
3 Tbls chopped fresh ginger, divided in half
2 Tbls chopped fresh garlic, divided in half
1 stick fresh lemon grass*, cut into a few pieces
salt and pepper
2 cans coconut milk
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls Thai fish sauce
1 Tbls rice wine vinegar
cilantro for garnish
lime for garnish
*Lemongrass may be difficult to find, if you can't find it, no problem, just be sure to have lime wedges.

In a large pot, heat oil to med heat and add ginger and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Allow to sweat, but not burn, about 5 minutes, stir occasionally.  Add chicken and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cover for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
Remove chicken and place in bowl to allow to cool.  Once cooled, remove all meat from bones, discard bones and shred chicken, set aside.
Reserve broth, remove any excess fat.  Discard ginger and garlic.
Wipe pot out and reheat, add another drizzle of oil and add the second half of ginger and garlic, once again, allow to sweat, not burn.  Add coconut milk and broth.  (You should have about 2 cups of broth).  If you have to, add water or store bought broth.  Bring to a boil and add mushrooms, simmer and add sugar, vinegar and Thai fish sauce.  Add chicken and heat gently. Serve with cilantro sprigs and lime wedge.

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