Fragrant Thai soup

I nipped into my local Thai food shop at the weekend to get some crucial ingredients for my planned Thai soup of yumminess. I’m sure Waitrose stock some of the stuff on my list, but there’s something a lot more charming about an authentic store on your doorstep.

In true Thai style, the guy that runs it is super nice and helpful – immediately showing me where everything is I needed and even giving me tips on freezing lemongrass and rehydrating the somewhat shrivelled galangal.

So with a bagful of exotic loveliness I headed home and got the soup on. The recipe is from the beautifully photographed book Thai Food and Cooking by Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson. We bought it from the airport on our way home from Thailand when we couldn’t bear the thought that our holiday was finally over.

To be honest we’ve not attempted much out of it. Matthew tried to make a Thai omlette once, with distrous results. I guess we’ve not trusted the book since, and it certainly knocked the confidence of Mr B’s kitchen prowess.

But enough years have passed for me to take a deep breath and try again. It was a good call because the resulting soup was creamy, fragrant and, well, quite beautiful.

Let’s face it, soups aren’t normally on the menu on such sweltering days, but the Thai flavours just made it seem right somehow.

Not forgetting the delicious home made chicken stock and left over chicken meat from the roast earlier in the week. That was a fabulous contribution to the mix.

I’m not sure what’s going on with my coriander though. Since we harvested the first batch of leaves it’s come back all frondy – it looks more like dill frankly. But it still tastes like coriandar. Weird. Any ideas anyone?!

Anyway here’s the recipe:

Galangal, chicken and coconut soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4 lemon grass stalks, roots trimmed
2 x 400ml cans coconut milk (use half fat if you want it to be less lardy)
475ml chicken stock
2.5cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (it’s a member of the ginger family in case you’re wondering)
10 black peppercorns, crushed
10 kaffir lime leaves, torn
300g skinless, boneless chicken breast portions, cut into thin strips (I used leftover roast chicken morsels)
115g button mushrooms (halved if large)
50g baby corn cobs, quartered lengthways
60ml fresh lime juice
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
chopped fresh red chillies, spring onions and fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Method

1. Cut off the lower 5cm from each lemon grass stalk and chop finely. Bruise the remaining pieces of stalk. Bring the coconut milk and chicken stock to the boil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped and bruised lemon grass, the galangal, peppercorns and half the kaffir lime leaves, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Strain the soup into a clean pan.

2. Return the soup to a low heat, then stir in the chicken strips, mushrooms and corn. Simmer gently, stirring occassionally, for 5-7 mins, or until the chicken is cooked.

3. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce, then add the remaining lime leaves. Ladle into warm bowls and serve, garnished with chopped chillis, spring onions and conriander leaves.

I’ve got a decent amount left in the fridge for my lunches this week, which’ll help me move on from my tomato and mozzarella obsession!

I’m steadily using up the chicken stock. I’ve done this soup, a tasty pea risotto for the kids and i’ve got one more hit left which i’m saving for some courgette and lemon couscous later in the week.

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About Katie Bryson

Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer and blogger. She left a career in online news at the BBC to immerse herself in the culinary world, taking in courses at Leiths School of Food and Wine and an internship at Waitrose along the way. Her family food blog www.feedingboys.co.uk is bursting with recipes and tips for feeding hungry families that’ll help inspire all those frazzled parents out there wondering what on earth to cook for tea! She lives in West London with her two young boys and yes, her firefighter husband.
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