Thai Chicken Soup

We had a few days of rain recently and the temperature was in the 50s. I quickly partook in all winter activities - wore boots and a jacket, two scarves (at once), lit a fire, and made 5 different kinds of soup and chili. Winter-adjacent weather lasts for approximately 72 hours in Southern California so you need to make the most of it. East Coast folks who happen to visit during a "cold spell" have likely looked around and thought, "Are these people nuts? Who needs a beanie when it's 60?" Yes, we're definitely crazy (sweaty) hipsters.



This Thai Chicken Soup is adapted from Cook's Illustrated's The Best International Recipe. As with most soups, the key to tying all the flavors together is homemade stock. I highly recommend making a batch of chicken or vegetable stock for the freezer since you can throw just about any ingredients into a rich broth and it will taste fantastic.







Ingredients

Soup

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 stalks lemon grass, the bottom five inches only, sliced thin (approx 3/4 oz or a heaping 1/4 cup) Note: I remove some of the really tough and dry outer layers before slicing.
  • 3 large shallots, small chop
  • 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce Note: The original recipe calls for 3 tbsp.
  • 4 cups Homemade Roasted Chicken Stock
  • 7 ounces (1/2 can) coconut milk + 21 ounces (1 1/2 cans) light coconut milk Note: When I made this soup with 28 ounces of whole coconut milk, I found the flavor and color to be dull. The richness from the extra fat drowned out the other flavors.
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Breast meat from a roasted chicken, torn or cut into pieces roughly 1/4-inch wide Note: The original recipe suggests cooking thinly-sliced chicken breast but I like the ease and flavor of roasted chicken. As a bonus, any leftover parts of the chicken can go into the freezer for a new pot of stock.
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice Note: The original recipe calls for 3 tbsp.
  • 3 tsp Thai red curry paste Note: The original recipe calls for 2 tsp.

Garnish

  • Jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, very thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro, to taste

Jalapeños at Milliken Family Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market



Instructions

  • Over medium, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or similar pan.
  • Sauté the lemon grass, shallots, chopped cilantro, and 1 tbsp of the fish sauce. Stir often until the ingredients are softened (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Add the chicken stock and 1 can of coconut milk, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the temperature, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and throw away the filtered bits. Note: Cook's Illustrated suggests that this is the point at which you can refrigerate the soup for up to a day. I refrigerated the completely finished product (with the mushrooms, chicken, etc.) and found it to be fine the next day. Chef's discretion.
  • Wipe out your Dutch oven and add your strained soup, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sugar, remaining coconut milk, and stir.
  • While the broth is simmering, add the mushrooms and cook until just tender (about 3 minutes).
  • Add the roasted chicken pieces and cook until warmed through.
  • Turn off the heat and add your lime juice, remaining 1 tbsp fish sauce, and curry paste. Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with thinly sliced jalapeño, cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Storage and Reheating

Rob and I had this dish for dinner and then I kept the leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container. The soup was great the next day, though I'm not sure I'd keep it much longer that that. To reheat, let the soup stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then heat slowly so that the mushrooms and chicken don't get tough or overcooked.

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