This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. I used low-fat coconut milk to cut down on the calories. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger. Regular lime leaves can stand in for kaffir lime leaves.
Serves 3 large bowlfuls
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red), finely julienned, seeds removed (unless you want more heat)
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
2 cups of mushrooms, quartered
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves
4 cups chicken broth (I used Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
14-oz can of low-fat coconut milk
½ chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces or cubed leftover roasted chicken breast
Bring broth to a boil. While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly. Cut a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and remove the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash both lemongrass and galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, julienned chili, and salt. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool. Peel the skin off, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth. Boil for 10 minutes.
Next, add the raw chicken and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add coconut milk and gently stir for 5 minutes. When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice. If using pre-cooked chicken, add it at this time. Discard galangal and lemongrass. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro.