It´s cold and rainy in Berlin, time for a soup. In the past I made a kind of speedy version of Tom Kha Gai with ready-made organic chicken broth. But this time I made my own chicken broth which clearly brought more depth to the soup. Regarding the vegetables you can use your own favorite ones, I used champigions&cherry tomatoes and carrots besides the classic asian ingredients. Best to enjoy the soup over 2-3 days. At the end you have to find the right balance sweetness, spiciness and acidity.
Anyway, this soup will warm your soul.
1 chicken (1.5-2kg)
3-4 lemongrass sticks
3 red Thai chillis
4-6 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro with roots
1 bunch spring onions
800ml coconut milk (2 cans)
4-5 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2-3 limes (juice only)
4-5 Kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dry)
100-150g white mushrooms
200g cherry tomatoes
Put roughly chopped vegetables like 1 onion, 1 galangal, 1/2 ginger, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 spring onion, part of cilantro with roots, 1 Thai chilli with seeds to a Staub/Le Creuset cocotte
Clean the chicken with water carefully. Add the cleaned chicken to the cocotte and add cold water until almost covered. Add a lid and bring to boil on low heat slowly. Let it cook for almost 3h on very low heat (!), just very little bubbles should be on the surface.
Add around 1 - 1.5 l lchicken broth back to the cocotte. Add rest of the ginger, galangal, lemonsticks, spring onions, garlic roughly chopped. Also cilantro leaves, white mushrooms slices, tomatoes halved, carrots sliced. In addition add 4-5 Kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dry), 1 Thai chilli with seeds and coconut milk to the cocotte. Let it cook for 15-20min. on medium heat. After 15-20min add fish sauce, sugar and chopped chicken pieces and cook for additional 5-10min. Shortly before serving add juice of limes to the soup and cook the soup for additional 2-3min. At the end you have to find the right balance sweetness, spiciness and acidity. Optional add more fish sauce, more lime juice, more sugar or more Thai chilli.
Note: you bring the chicken breast chopped and meat of the legs back into the pot in the last 5-10min to re-heat.
I made this today for 5 people. Excellent. Lemon grass, scallions and even one leek from my garden. My wife had a tooth problem so the soft chicken was perfect. I got her some diver scallops that were soft in case she did not like the soup, but she did. We made white rice with it so we had lots of combinations, all good. Rebecca and I had the soup plain. Jacob and Greg had soup over rice. Pin Hua went whole hog. Rice in the bottom of the bowl, with four seared scallops on the rice, and then two ladles of soup on top of that.
My only significant adjustment was salt. The directions did not include salt so I did not add any, but we all agreed to add some at the table. The lime juice was also added at the table and added a nice element.
Yes, I thought of that, but fish sauce is not allowed in the house because my wife and son HATE the funky smell. The last time I got it, my son poured it down the sink within one hour of opening it. Even my daughter in law, who is Chinese and grew up in China, agrees that it is an acquired taste.
I thought of trying that but what do you do for the stock? Make shrimp stock first with the shells, then cook the veggies and herbs in the stock, then throw in the shrimp at the last minute? Seems right. Would make a great seafood soup as well. I might try to puree the vegies and herbs before adding the seafood - except for the lemon grass, which generates an annoying texture when pureed.
My wife does not like shrimp so tomorrow I will make a pot of the basic soup using chicken, remove the chicken, separate the soup into two pots, add the chicken back to one pot and use shrimp as the last step in the other pot. I bought most of the ingredients today and I have too much lemon grass in my back yard to waste it! I will report back and maybe I will remember to take photos this time.
PS - I remove all the lemon grass before serving because I thing it ruins the texture. Does anyone have a different experience?