THAI CHICKEN AND COCONUT SOUP
The Best Recipe: Soups & Stews, Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Serves 8 As A First Course
This multidimensional soup with tantalizing flavors and aromas is created with a blend of aromatics. Lemon grass imparts a rich, ethereal, lemony essence. If you can't find lemon grass, try 2 pieces of water-packed lemon grass or 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest. Fiery Thai chiles typically provide a hot and spicy component, but they are often hard to find, and Mexican hot peppers seem out of place. We found the best substitute to be a Thai red curry paste that includes Thai chiles and other aromatic ingredients favored in this soup. Avoid Indian-style curry pastes that include cumin and other spices, leftovers can be refrigerated for two days, but the coconut milk will separate. Reheat slowly, not boiling the liquid, to prevent the milk from curdling.
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 to 2 stalks lemon grass, outer sheath removed, bottom 3 inches trimmed and minced (3 tablespoons)
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 2 to 3 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
• 6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 (14-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
• 1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 12 ounces), cut into 1 by 1/4-inch strips
• 1 (15-ounce) can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• 1/2 cup loosely packed whole fresh cilantro leaves
• 3 scallions, greens only, sliced thin on an angle (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the lemon grass, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
2. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to the pot and stir to dissolve the curry paste. Add the remaining stock, fish sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the coconut milk, chicken, mushrooms, and lime juice. Bring back to a simmer and cook until the stock is hot and the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with cilantro and scallions.
THAI SHRIMP AND COCONUT SOUP
Substitute 1/4 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp for the chicken in step 3.