It’s been raining for almost a week nonstop here in central California, and pretty cold for this area to boot (low 40s in the day, low 30s at night). I know I’m not going to get sympathy from anyone…well, anywhere *but* California…but it’s a great excuse to make soup.
I’d been craving tom kha gai, a Thai chicken-coconut soup. (I dunno why I’ve been on this Southeast Asian food kick lately, but I’ll probably blame having just finished reading A Cook’s Tour.) The coconut milk, though, pretty much negates the healthy soup factor, so I opted for a regular ol’ chicken vegetable soup. The chicken adds richness, the carrots and green onions sweetness, spinach an earthiness, and the lemon, kaffir lime, and galangal a tangyness.
~300 calories for the whole pot, and chock full of tons of vitamins: vitamin A, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Luckily this whole diet thing makes it pretty easy to write up recipes, since I sort of measure everything anyway.
Kestrel’s Thai Chicken Soup
Makes 1 serving as a meal, 2 servings as a side or starter.
If you do your prep first, the cooking will go super fast.
- 1 skinless boneless chicken thigh (I prefer the thighs because they have more flavor & are cheaper), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 can chicken broth (Swanson 100% natural is what I used)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
- a few kaffir lime leaves (anywhere between 1-3 is fine)
- a few coins of galangal (I find it’s a bit sweeter and fruitier than ginger)
- 1 sliced ring of lemon
- 2 small carrots, sliced into coins
- 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped roughly
- 1/4 cup shelled soy beans/edamame (I bought preshelled frozen ones)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
Add the oil to the bottom of the pot and heat up. Add chicken, salt, pepper. Keep stirring until chicken is a little bit browned.
Add chicken stock, galangal, fish sauce, lime leaves, lemon ring. Bring to a boil.
Turn down to a simmer. Add carrots, then bring to a simmer again and add spinach, soybeans. Bring to a boil.
Throw in green onions, cilantro, and turn off immediately so the cilantro and green onions don’t overcook and lose their brightness. Stir, let cool for a minute, then enjoy. Garnish bowl with a few sesame seeds if you want.
Pro tip: don’t try to eat the lemon ring, galangal, or kaffir lime leaves. They’re all pretty tough and pungent. You could probably take them out before serving if you wanted, or just eat around them like I do.