Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

A recipe to use the lemongrass, cilantro and fish sauce again

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

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 I know the last recipe for Thai lettuce cups sent my daughter in search of unfamiliar ingredients, namely lemongrass and fish sauce.
So in the interest of thrift, not to mention continuing to expand her horizons, I offer a second recipe to use up those ingredients while they are still fresh: Thai Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup.
It seems a perfect restorative for these March days, when the weather can’t make up its mind. One day it’s lovely and warm, the next windy and cold, the next damp and rainy. Seems everyone is suffering from sniffles, a cold, or flaring allergies.
Chicken soup is always a comfort, but this elegant version lives up to its Thai mantra of salty, spicy, sweet, and sour: the salty fish sauce, the spicy jalapeño peppers, the sweet coconut milk, and the sour lime juice.
You’ve probably tasted a soup similar to this at your favorite Thai restaurant, but it is really quite simple to make at home.
The recipe is expandable, should you want to add more vegetables, like broccoli or Chinese cabbage or bok choy.
And you can also add more jalapeño peppers if you desire more heat. I only suggest (and this means you, Sally) that you start with two peppers, taste the broth, and add more from there. If it does get too hot, you can try adding more broth, or more lime juice, or more coconut milk, but it’s a challenge to get it just right.
I love the thin slices of chicken in this recipe and here is one trick to help with that: Stick the chicken breasts in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes before you slice. They should be firm, not frozen, making them so much easier to get nice and thin with a good, sharp knife.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
 Makes 6 servings
4 ounces of Thai rice noodles
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
3-inch length lemongrass, very thinly sliced
Six 1/8-inch-thick slices of fresh ginger, peeled, then sliced into matchstick pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (see note)
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

1. Put the rice noodles in a medium saucepan. Bring water in a kettle to a boil, and then pour in enough water to cover the rice noodles. Cover and let sit, while preparing the rest of the soup.
2. Combine the broth, lime zest, lemongrass, and ginger in a pot and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until the ingredients release their fragrance.
3. Add the carrots, fish sauce, lime juice, jalapeños, chicken, coconut milk, and cilantro. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Taste, and if the soup seems lacking in salt, add more fish sauce. Drain the noodles and add them to the soup. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
Note: Put chicken breasts in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make them firmer and easier to slice.
Per serving: 332 calories, 19 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 21 grams fat, 42 milligrams cholesterol, 876 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

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About this blog

Maureen Fitzgerald, Inquirer food editor, has been cooking dinner for 30 years. Her blog started with teaching her daughter, but has been continuing for the past two years with school children, this fall with fifth graders from Russell Byers Charter in Phila. The program continues to expand with 32 volunteers teaching 75 children in 15 classes this fall in Phila and Camden, in partnership with the Vetri Foundation for Children.

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