Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thai Chicken & Chile Soup

Talk about a sensational soup! This is it. Maybe we were just in the mood for something different, and maybe it was just because we were with friends that this soup hit the spot. At around lunchtime, we stopped to visit our good friends Russ & Stacey (pictured down below with one of their two children) in San Jose. They'd just returned from a trip the night before, yet Russ, who loves to cook but so often doesn't have time, made this great soup for lunch. It didn't look difficult, as long as you have all the ingredients. That may be the tough part - finding the lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. And the Thai chiles too.

There's a photo of the chiles that I found on the internet - they can be both red or green. They're HOT little devils, I'll tell you. But they add a great punch to the soup. You likely could substitute other kinds of chiles in this preparation, but the red color definitely adds beauty to the finished soup bowl. Galangal is not something that's stocked at my local grocery store, so will have to search it out. Same for the kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass stalks. But I will be on the hunt. Soon. We have several Ranch 99 markets in our area (Asian foods), and I assume I'll be able to find all of those items there. I'll be making this soup and putting up a stock of it in my soup library. The recipe came from a cookbook I'm not familiar with - called Red Hot Chili Pepper. It contained lots of beautiful photographs, and a variety of recipes using chiles. Russ served this with a side of white rice, which you could add to the soup, or not. But the rice helped temper the heat.

When I make this soup, I may not add the little bit of hot chiles at the end, as they are so very hot. Burned my mouth and throat. But I think if they had been added to the soup earlier they would have dispersed some of their heat. I may consider adding just one chile. But heat is such an individual thing. I'm just warning you, in case you're sensitive to chile heat, that these little guys pack a punch. Thanks, Russ (and Stacey), for the fun visit with you, and for this great recipe!

Thai Chicken & Chile Soup
Recipe: Red Hot Chile Pepper, consulting editor Jenni Fleetwood
Servings: 6
4 stalks lemongrass -- trimmed
29 ounces coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 piece galangal
2 small red Thai chiles -- (very hot)
10 whole peppercorns -- crushed
10 whole kaffir lime leaves -- torn in pieces
11 ounces chicken breast -- cut in thin strips
1 1/2 cups mushrooms -- button or oyster, or your choice
1/2 cup baby corn -- canned, drained, quartered lengthwise
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce -- nam pla

3 scallions -- minced
4 tablespoons cilantro -- minced
1. Cut off the lower 2 inches of each lemongrass stalk and chop those. Bruise the remaining lemongrass.
2. Bring coconut milk, lemongrasses and chicken stock to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and slice the galangal, and peel and mince the red chiles. Add galangal and HALF the chiles, peppercorns, half of the lime leaves to the soup mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain this mixture into a clean pan. Heat, then add the chicken, mushrooms and corn. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add lime juice, fish sauce and remaining lime leaves. Bring back to a boil, then serve hot, garnished with the additional chiles, green onion and cilantro.
Per Serving: 472 Calories; 38g Fat (68.9% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 28mg Cholesterol; 771mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 7 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.

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