If love came in soup format, it just might be Tom Kha Gai. It’s hot at first, sweet and spicy and even a little sour, but it keeps you warm until the very end. Unless you don’t pay it any attention - you’ve got to work at it, see. Otherwise it gets cold, and the excitement fades. Then you retire, start attending bingo nights and eating dinner at 4 pm. And you yell, “Where are my slippers?!” a lot at nobody in particular. Ahh, old age. I mean, love. I mean, soup. Thai Coconut Soup.
You will need:
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can straw mushrooms, rinsed
- 5 limes, juiced
- 1 cup shredded chicken
- salt & pepper
- handful chopped fresh cilantro
Bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Peel the lemongrass apart through about 3 layers and tear each stalk in half. Add this to the pot along with the kaffir lime leaves (also torn roughly by hand), thai chilies, ginger paste and garlic paste. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
The aroma of lemongrass and ginger should fill your kitchen. Uncover and add the fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk, straw mushrooms, lime juice and chicken. Let simmer for 5 more minutes. (Incidentally, if you managed to squeeze as much lime juice into your eyes as I did while juicing the suckers, give yourself 10 points. We’ve fought in the same battle and have now bonded in our shared experience.)
Season generously with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro. Then cozy up and enjoy.