Usually when I think of Thai food my mind fills with thoughts of Pad Thai, red curry and incredible peanut sauce. But one of my very favorite Thai dishes – and probably the one I make the most – is Tom Kha Gai, a flavorful Thai chicken soup with a coconut milk base. It’s easy to make, satisfying and delicious. Traditionally it doesn’t have the green veggies, and you can leave them out if you want, but I like the extra veggies and usually throw in a handful of whatever I happen to have. I love this soup!
One of my friends served this to his son and was surprised when he wasn’t a huge fan. As it turned out, he had eaten the big chunks of ginger and lemongrass and not enjoyed them much. They are used just for flavoring the soup as it cooks, but aren’t meant to be eaten (though they are edible). Now you could go through and fish this stuff out before serving it but I usually don’t. Instead, I serve this with small bowls to discard the ginger and lemongrass as you come across them. Second time around, the kid skipped those pieces and loved it!
Thai Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)
1 pound chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into bite size pieces
2 cans coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth
3 inch piece of ginger, cut into slices (no need to peel)
2-3 stalks of lemongrass, cut into 2-3 inch pieces, smashed with flat of knife
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup green beans or peapods
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. thai chili paste
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Sriracha sauce (optional if you want an extra kick)
In a dutch oven or soup pot, saute chicken in a tbsp of oil until no longer pink. Add coconut milk, broth, ginger and lemongrass. Bring to a boil. Add veggies, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer til veggies are tender and chicken is cooked all the way through. Ladle over rice, garnish with basil and cilantro. Spike with sriracha if you want it a little spicier. Serves 6. Serve with some small empty bowls for discarding the pieces of ginger and lemongrass.