Friday, October 9, 2015

Tom Kha Kai aka Coconut Chicken Soup

It is about the time when I have to pack up my flip flops and break out my sweaters, which is seriously depressing for me but the yogi in me is trying to stay positive so on the flipside it's soup, stew and casserole season- yay! There are a lot of feel good, heart warming meals ahead of me and this soup is a super simple and flavorful way to start the season. 

Tom kha kai (also spelled tom kha gai) is a Thai soup traditionally made with lime juice, coconut milk, mushrooms and chicken. It's one of those soups that seems complicated but once you make it and realize how simple it is- you'll make it all the time. And all the delicious ingredients have such a complex flavor profile- it's a very impressive soup to serve at a dinner party. My version strays from the traditional slightly- with my addition of bok choy and corn- but I like the added textures. Play around with this soup base and see where you land. It's a fall and winter winner for sure! 

Tom Kha Kai 

1lb of boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced 
2 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced (your choice of mushrooms- I used cremini and shiitake) 
2 1/2 cups bok choy, roughly chopped
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced 
1 tbs deseeded jalapeño, minced 
2 tbs fresh ginger, roughly chopped 
2 lemongrass stems
1 1/2 tbs cilantro, minced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (optional) 

1 cup water 
1/3 cup yellow onion, minced (about half a small onion) 
1 garlic clove, smashed 
Zest of 2 limes 
Juice of 1 lime (about 3 tbs) 

4 cups chicken stock 
2 cans (14 oz) coconut milk 
2 tsp fish sauce 
1 tbs coconut oil 
1/4 tsp salt plus a little extra pinch 
Fresh pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sriracha sauce (optional) 

Two medium pots 
Cutting board 
Chopping knife 
Measuring cups spoons 
Wooden spoon

Place the lemongrass on your cutting board and using the backside of your chopping knife, repeatedly hit up and down the length of the lemongrass. This is essentially bruising the root and allowing the oils to be freed. Add the entire stalks, chicken stock, water, garlic, ginger, lime zest and lime juice to one pot. Place on the stove over medium to low heat and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 20 minutes and then remove from the heat. Set this pot aside until ready to use. 

In separate medium pot, add the coconut oil and heat over medium to high heat. Once hot- add the minced onions and jalapeños. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions become translucent. Sprinkle the chicken slices with salt and pepper (to your taste) and then add to the pot. Sauté until the chicken is completely white. Add the mushrooms, bok choy and corn if you're using it. Sauté for another few minutes or until the mushrooms are al-dente. 

Place the sieve over the pot with the chicken and mushrooms. Pour the flavored stock pot into the chicken and mushrooms pot, straining out the lemongrass and other flavorings. Bring the soup pot to a simmer. Then add the scallions and cilantro. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes before adding the two cans of coconut milk and fish sauce. Add 1/4 tsp of salt, sriracha if you're using it and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and then turn off. You can serve this now or allow it to cool and refrigerate it to serve the next day. 

I like to allow my Thai flavors to meld but sometimes I'm too impatient to wait. Hopefully this soup makes up for the cold weather ahead of us!! Enjoy! Xo

My Asian grocer had run out of bok choy so she gave me "emperor lettuce" as a substitute. I usually use bok choy though.

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