Big Daddy's     Cooking with Attitude

Thai Chile



Thai Chicken Soup

I love all the foods from Southeast Asia, but none more than those from Thailand.  All of the Thai restaurants in our neck of the woods (southern New Hampshire and Central Massachusetts) make wonderful soups and all of them are delicious.  While each is distinct they all share common traits:  the broth is usually light and very aromatic and they tend to let the broth be the star with only a few other ingredients added in.  In southeast Asia the soup is only a precursor to the main event so it is rarely hearty fare.  And although they share many common characteristics they are often quite distinct with some carrying the aroma of ginger, lemongrass or basil while others smell and taste lightly of fruit.

This recipe originates with a long time cyber friend, Cooking Monster, with whom I've shared many cooking discussions on our favorite on-line foodie forum, I've only made modest adjustments here and there.  This is absolutely true to what you'll find in the best Thai restaurants, it's sensational!  Some of the ingredients can be hard to locate so I've added some notes on substitutions below.

6 cups chicken broth
4 quarter-sized slices fresh galangal
2 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 whole shallots, minced
7 whole Kaffir lime leaves
3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to bottom 5 inches
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (using the light stuff is okay)
cup fish sauce
2-3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small lime, juiced
cup chopped cilantro
2-3 cups shredded chicken
Basmati rice  (optional)  
tomato wedges  

In a stockpot large enough to hold all of the broth ingredients add the first 8 ingredients (broth through curry paste).  Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.  Strain out the solids and return the stock to the pot. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and return to a simmer.  Add the mushrooms and simmer until they are hot and just starting to cook. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and chicken.

To Serve

We love this with a little Basmati rice, but it isn't necessary.  Place a quarter to a third cup of rice in the bottom of the soup bowl, add 2-3 tomato wedges (we like to use cherry tomatoes sliced in half) and then the soup.  Garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Bon Appetite!

Notes on Substitutions

Use the substitutions below if you have a hard time finding the correct ingredients.  But remember that with each substitution you are sacrificing a little of the dishes character.  It's really worth the effort to find the real stuff :)

  1. Galangal is similar to ginger (often called Thai ginger) and can be hard to find.  Substitute regular ginger.
  2. For Kaffir lime leaves you may substitute the zest of a lime.
  3. Similarly you may substitute lemon zest for the lemon grass.
  4. Not being a Cilantro fan I find that substituting parsley works very well.
  5. The remaining Thai ingredients such as red curry paste and fish sauce are readily available in large super markets.


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