Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the 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,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Pozole

Oy vey! Nice Jewish girl learns to cook with pork products! My friend Jann made this hearty and delicious pozole with her Mexican husband, Luciano, for their  New Years Eve parties. She gave me her recipe using pork shoulder, but the second time I made it I used the leaner pork loin.

Cooked with chilies and hominy and topped with cabbage, oregano, radishes and cilantro, it makes a rich and satisfying stew.

This recipe made 10 servings, including leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 gallon chicken broth. For the cross-cultural experience, use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup.
4 dried red chilies, such as ancho or pasilla chili
2 fresh poblano chili peppers
2 Tb olive oil
2 onions
2 1/2 pound pork loin.
1 Tb dried oregano
1 head garlic.
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tb paprika (Spanish smoked paprika adds a nice smoky flavor)
Several grinds black pepper
1 Tb salt to taste
2 chayotes, peeled, seed area removed, and chopped
39- oz and 15-oz cans of white or purple hominy (maíz blanco o morado)

Condiments:

1 Tb dried oregano
Black pepper
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 small green cabbage, shredded
A bunch of radishes, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
4 limes, sliced into wedges
 

Bring the soup stock to boil in a large pot.

Heat a heavy frying pan and toast the dried red chilies and the poblano peppers. Place them in a covered bowl to cool, and then remove the stems and seed pods. Throw them in the stock pot

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and cook the sliced onions until soft. Slice the poblano chiles and fry up with the onions, then add to the soup. Smash the garlic bulb with a molcajete or mortar and pestle, chop it finely and add it to the soup. Add bay leaves, salt, paprika, black pepper and cayenne.

Cut the pork into large (about 3 x 3) chunks and trim extra fat. Pour another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and add the pork, sprinkling salt and dried oregano on each side. Brown pork on all sides then put in the stock. After pork is browned, add  2 ladles of hot broth to the frying pan to deglaze it. Using a metal spatula, loosen all the browned bits  into the broth and then pour it back into the pot.

Simmer the soup at low-medium heat for 1 ½ hours.

Pour the soup into a large container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large pot, and heat it. Pour the solids into a bowl. Remove the red chili and strip whatever skin from it that you can. Put in a blender with 2 cups of broth and run blender on high, then add to the broth in the pot, rinsing the blender with broth several times to get all the chili out.

While broth is cooking, shred or chop the meat, discarding bones and fat, and then add the shredded meat to the broth. Add chopped chayotes and hominy. Adjust salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, until chayote is tender, and then scoop into bowls.

Top with condiments, squeeze a bit of lime in, roll up a few warm corn tortillas to dip in the soup, y disfrútelo.

Jenny’s Lemongrass and Opo Kang

My best friend at work, Jenny, shares her delicious Laotian dishes with me at lunchtime, and shares the recipes as well. She makes this with jasmine rice. I made it with brown rice.

This Laotian lemongrass-scented Kang (soup) is easy to make. The opo squash, also known as bottle squash because of its shape, is mild flavored when young. If you can’t find it in your local produce or Asian market, you can substitute chayote or zucchini. Jenny uses the seeds along with the flesh.

I bought the lemongrass, opo and Thai basil from an Asian market in Oakland. But next summer I’m going to try to grow them. Each stalk of lemongrass can become a new plant. Just save the bottom 4 inches above the bulb and suspend in water with toothpicks. The bulb will develop roots and the plant will grow quickly. I’ve already  planted one in the yard and will harvest it come summer. Thai basil is very fragrant; use just a bit so as not to overwhelm the lemongrass.

You can make this with pork or chicken. I used sustainably raised pork (from Niman Ranch) since I have issues with the environmental damage caused by commercial pig farms. It’s more expensive but you don’t use much in this recipe. If using a chicken breast, slice it thinly and add them with the opo for the last 15 minutes.

Serves 4


6 cups chicken broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

1 tomato, minced

1/4 pound center-cut boneless pork chop, fat trimmed or chicken breast.

1 stalk lemon grass

1/2 cup rice (I used brown rice)

2 opo squash

Salt to taste

fresh Thai basil leaves

Cut lemon grass into 4 inch pieces, smash with a molcajete (mortar and pestle) or rolling pin on a cutting board to release the scent, then boil in broth with tomato pieces. Cut pork in thin slices and add to broth with rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Peel the opo and slice into bite sized pieces. Fish out the lemon grass and discard. (you don’t want to bite into one while eating the soup!) Add the opo and cook 15 minutes. Salt to taste. Shred basil and garnish each bowlful.

Roasted Mushroom-Barley soup with Beef Broth

roasted mushroom barley soupThis earthy soup is made with four kinds of mushrooms, although you can vary the type. It’s rich made with beef broth, but vegetarians can use vegetable broth as well. Serves 6

½ cup pearl barley (not to be confused with Pearl Bailey)

5 cups water

1 lb beef femur  bone

2 medium cloves garlic

2 leeks, white and light green part only.

1 onion

4 stalks celery

2 large carrots, peeled

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt, to taste

1 Tb olive oil

2 lbs crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 King mushrooms

1 large bunch of oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 to 1/2  tsp white pepper, depending on how peppery you like your soup

3 Tbs cooking sherry

several grinds black pepper

several sprigs fresh thyme leaves to garnish.

Make beef broth: Bring the water to a boil with the beef bone. Chop leeks, celery, carrots and garlic finely and add to the water. Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms coarsely in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Add them to the vegetables along with the salt and dried thyme. Simmer for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim the fat off the soup. Remove the bone and blend the soup.

Bring soup to a boil. Add barley and let simmer for 20 minutes. While barley is simmering, heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean mushrooms well (I soak them several times in a salad spinner, then clean each one with a brush or paper towel.) Trim the woody ends from the  crimini and shitake mushrooms then toss with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray) and roast them  for 20 minutes until they are soft.  While they are roasting, chop the oyster and King mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the white pepper to taste.

roasted mushroomsAdd the liquid from the roasted mushroom to the soup. Cut the roasted mushrooms in quarters and slices and add them  to the broth.

Simmer  for 20 minutes. Correct seasonings, adding several grinds black pepper and sherry. Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms.

Kale and Bean Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s another rainy day soup. I just dreamed it up and made it. Luckily everyone in the family liked it on the first try. The rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and garlic give it a lovely aroma.

I dice the kale, celery, leeks, and red bell pepper in the food processor for faster prep and cooking. Just discard the kale’s lower thick stems first.

I made this  using dried beans as well. I boiled them in chicken stock for 5 minutes, then transferred them to a crock pot and added the rest of the ingredients. I cooked it on “high” for 3-4 hours until beans and kale are tender. You can also heat the crock pot to high, then tun it to low and  let it cook  while you are at work, or overnight. This way you don’t have to worry about stirring the pot so the cheese won’t stick to the bottom! And homemade beans are so much better than canned ones!

In case there are leftovers, this soup is even better the next day, when flavors have developed even more..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

serves 8 bowls

Ingredients

½ gallon (8 cups) homemade chicken or vegetable stock Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version) (you can use boxed stock, but it won’t be as good!)

1 rind Parmesan cheese

2 bay leaves

1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced, or 3 frozen cubes garlic

1 large leek, white and pale green parts only (you can substitute defrosted frozen leeks)

3 ribs celery

1 seeded red bell pepper

1 large carrot, chopped

¼ tsp red pepper flakes for a spicy soup. If you don’t like the heat, use just a shake.

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp fresh rosemary needles, minced

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 tsp dried thyme plus 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

several grinds black pepper

1 or 2 bunches kale, finely chopped. I chop the whole thing, leaves and ribs, excluding the thick ribs on the bottom. I’ve used Dinosaur and curly kale. You can substitute frozen chopped kale.

1 29-oz can Great Northern or cannellini (white kidney) beans OR 3 cups dry  beans

1 14-oz can artichoke hearts in water

2 to 3 teaspoons salt to taste (sea salt is nice).

2 Tb Parmesan cheese, freshly grated per bowl

Directions

Heat broth to boiling. If using dry beans, rinse in a sieve, then boil in broth for 5 minutes. Let beans soak in the hot broth while you prepare the herbs and vegetables. If using canned beans, pulse 1/2 of them in the food processor with a bit of broth to thicken the soup. (You can do the same with the dry beans when they are finished cooking.)

While broth is heating, chop  leek, onion, celery, and bell pepper in the food processor in batches, or chop finely by hand. Chop carrot by hand into sticks, then rounds..

onions and veggies

Pour olive oil into a frying pan and heat until it shimmers. Add chopped onion and cook on low for 10 minutes until it softens. Add garlic, leeks, celery, bell pepper and carrots to the pan. Cook until the vegetables start to soften. Stir red and black pepper, oregano, sage, and rosemary into the onions and cook a few minutes more.

chopped kale

Discard the tough bottom stems, then chop the kale finely or pulse in food processor. Stir kale. bay leaves and Parmesan rind into soup. Stir in onion mixture. Let cook 20 minutes on medium, until kale is tender, or set in crock pot for several hours.

If using dry beans, simmer for 3-4 hours until beans and kale are tender. You can also heat the crock pot to high, then tun it to low and let it cook all the day or overnight.

Chop artichoke hearts and stir into soup.  Add salt to taste. Discard Parmesan rinds and bay leaves before serving.

Minestrone Soup

Fall in the Bay Area brings a few weeks of sunshine to ripen tomatoes, then rainy and chilly days, perfect Minestrone Soup weather. Pick those ripened tomatoes off the withering vines, combine them with broth and chopped veggies and herbs in a big pot. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, so if you want to clean out the veggie bin of your fridge, throw in what you’ve got. You could use frozen veggies  or canned tomatoes. There is a use for everything, even Parmesan cheese rinds! The rind lends a wonderful flavor to the soup. If it doesn’t break up, leave it in the pot when serving.

10 servings:
1 or more Parmesan rinds
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 bunch red Swiss chard, leaves torn off ribs and chopped fine, to make about 3 ½ cups, dice the ribs
1 large red bell pepper, diced to make 1 cup
1 large green bell pepper, diced to make 1 cup
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
1 Tb salt (to taste)
½  tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 Tb fresh minced oregano
1 tsp dried basil
6 cloves garlic, minced
several grinds black pepper
One package (4 links) Aidells chicken sausages. either artichoke and garlic or sun-dried tomato with mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 bay leaf
several shakes red pepper flakes
10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) homemade chicken or vegetable stock Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or vegetable broth (you can use boxed stock, but it won’t be as good!)
1 can tomato paste
4 cups diced tomatoes (Roma is best)
OR 28 ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes to sub for tomatoes and tomato paste
4 dried Porcini mushrooms
1 rind Parmesan cheese
1  cup peeled and diced carrots (2 large carrots)
2 peeled and diced red potatoes
2/3 cup small pasta (I used the tiny tubes called ditalini for my last batch, but I have also used salad macaroni)
4 small zucchini, diced to make 1 ½ cups
1/2 pound green beans, chopped
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped.
1 Tb fresh minced basil (about 5 leaves)
 
Garnish:
a few pinches dried oregano to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat stock, Parmesan rinds, tomato paste, tomatoes or canned tomatoes  in a large pot.

Grind dried Porcini mushrooms in a coffee grinder or small food processor and add to the stock. Add salt to taste.

Scrub mushrooms and rinse well. Dry in paper towel. and cut off woody ends from the stems. Place mushrooms on toaster oven tray and spray with olive oil spray. Broil for 10 minutes. When they cool, cut them in quarters and add to stock.

Stir-fry onions, red bell pepper, chard ribs, garlic, celery, and herbs in  olive oil in a heavy skillet until translucent. Add to stock.

Slice sausages in quarters lengthwise and then into half-coins. Stir fry in the same skillet as the onions were in for about 4 minutes, until browned. Add to soup, then ladle some soup into the frying pan and scrape the browned bits into the soup, then pour back into the pot.

Stir in carrots, chard leaves, canned beans, and potato and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pasta, green beans, zucchini, parsley, corn and peas. Cook 10 minutes on medium. Stir in fresh basil.

Discard bay leaf and ladle into bowl. Stir in a pinch of dried oregano, fresh basil, and a few spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a slice of good bread such as Acme herb slab, foccacia, olive bread, or sourdough baguette. Manga!

A Tale of Two Squash: Squash soup and Squash tacos

It was the best of squash,  it was….well anyway, there once were two butternut squash that were roasted in the oven.

but after becoming caramelized and soft, they headed for two different fates: one a smooth creamy soup made with broth and sage; the other filled spicy tacos with a burst of freshness from cilantro.

Butternut Squash Soup

Heat 3 cups broth (see Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

If squash has not cooked completely in oven, put seeded and peeled cooked squash in broth. Add  a large peeled and chopped red potato, and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.  Or I bake a Russet potato with the squash, halve it and peel it.  If both squash and potato are soft, you can skip boiling them and just plop them in the blender with the soup and sage.

squash in broth

Put it in the blender with the soup, several torn sage leaves, and a ½ to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste). You can omit the potato and make this soup with Potato-Leek soup base for a creamier, savory taste. Or try part broth, part potato-leek soup.

Heat raw pepitas (green shelled Mexican pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy frying pan until they begin to pop.

Garnish soup with seeds and a sage leaf.

Butternut Squash Tacos

mash squash

Simpler veggie version: Seed and peel squash and mash with ¼ cup butternut squash soup. Add ½ tsp. cumin and a few shakes chili powder or chipotle powder and salt. Grate or slice 2 tsp low fat cheddar cheese for each taco and add to squash.

tortilla with squash and cheese with pepitas on comal

Heat corn tortilla on comal, spread squash-cheese mixture on top.

Add salsa to taste, then toasted pepitas (you can toast them while heating the tortilla). Finish with chopped tomato and fresh cilantro.

ground turkey squash taco

Ground turkey version: Heat 1 Tb garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil) and add ½ chopped onion and one pound ground turkey. Add 1 chopped red or yellow bell pepper and 3 chopped Roma tomatoes. Season with 1 tsp each cumin and chipotle or chili powder, black pepper and chili flakes, 3 Tb salsa, and salt to taste. Cook until turkey is brown, add ½ cup butternut squash, and a squeeze of lime to cut the sweetness of the squash. Heat corn tortilla and fill with mixture. Add as desired: chopped lettuce, tomato, guacamole,  shredded low-fat cheese, more salsa, and cilantro. For a vegetarian version, substitute pinto  beans for turkey.

Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

OK the chicken doesn’t need to be Jewish. But this soup will cure any cold, which is why it’s called Jewish penicillin.

My Vietnamese student Dan gave me a the advice to break the bones to expose the marrow to add amazing flavor and nutrients to the broth.

Ingredients:

2 Tb chicken fat (Schmaltz) skimmed from chicken drippings

3 stalks celery, leaves also, chopped

1 large carrot chopped, or a handful of baby carrots

1 onion, coarsely chopped with skin

1 leek, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 Tb salt, or to taste

1 quart (4 quarts) plus 1 gallon (16 cups) water

Bones, skin, herbs and vegetables from roasted chicken

A handful of parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tsp black peppercorns

Directions: Roast chicken using my recipe for

Roast Chicken

You can also use a rotisserie chicken.

bones

After serving and boning chicken, reserve bones and skin and herbs. Break the bones to expose the marrow (I use kitchen shears). I include the dark meat we didn’t have for dinner. Refrigerate overnight in a container.

Fill the roasting pan with about a quart (4 cups) of water and bring to a boil. Squeeze the lemon that you cooked in the chicken into the pan, then discard the lemon, since the pith will give a bitter flavor to your broth. Simmer pan for 15 minutes, then turn off the burner and let sit for half an hour. Scrape the drippings from the pan using a metal spatula until they are incorporated into the liquid. Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight.

If I’m not up for making stock the next day, I freeze the bones and drippings until I am ready. Sometimes I will have 2 or 3 frozen carcasses until I’m ready to tackle the soup. If you do this, double the seasonings and add an extra gallon of water to your stock.

IMG_0042

The next day, skim the fat (schmaltz) from the refrigerated pan drippings to make two Tb fat. Discard the rest of the fat (unless you are planning to use it for matzo balls).

IMG_1019

Melt the fat in a large pot.Saute the chopped vegetables until they are soft, and stir in the herbs.

stock cooking in pot

Add the defatted drippings, along with 1 gallon (16 cups) water, and bring it to a boil. Add the parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, chicken bones and skin to the soup and return to a boil. Simmer for at least an hour and half.

Let cool until you can handle the pan. Strain through a strainer into a container or two, discarding all solids.

container in ice bath

Rinse out soup pot and fill with ice and cold water. Place soup container(s) in the ice bath until cold, then store in refrigerator. This is to safeguard your broth from bacteria growing in lukewarm soup.

The next day you can skim some of the fat off with a slotted spoon (keep a couple of tablespoons for flavor though), and adjust seasonings. This broth can be used as a base for various soups. Serve topped with fresh or dried dill.

  • Add kneydlekh (matzo balls) for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah or just to help the healing process.

matzo balls in chicken soup

  •  Saute chopped carrots, celery, sugar snap peas or frozen peas in a teaspoon of chicken fat, add hot broth, sliced roasted chicken, and either cooked rice or egg noodles. Sing, “Sippin’ once, Sippin’ twice, Sippin’ chicken soup with rice” along with Carole King and Maurice Sendek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSJ0FDplzjk

chicken rice soup

Mexican fideo soup: My mother-in-law, the beautiful Conchita, immigrated from Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas with a flair for making meals that were bién rica.  I have adapted some of her  recipes such as sopa de fideo, which is Mexican chicken-noodle soup.  She fries the fideo, which is short vermicelli, and adds onions, tomatoes and salsa.

Vegan Version: Omit the chicken. Saute vegetables in olive oil instead of shmaltz and add herbs.  Boil the vegetables and herbs for an hour, then strain and use as a base for vegetable soups.

Potato-Leek soup with cheese, mushroom, cauliflower variations

Potato-Leek soup

3 cups chicken broth (You can make this a vegan dish with vegetable broth)

1 leek, white part only

2 Russet potatoes

1 tsp. salt (to taste)

5 grinds black pepper

chopped leeks and potatoes

Skim refrigerated broth and bring to a boil. Cut the white part of leeks lengthwise and chop coarsely. Peel two russet potatoes and slice thin.

boiling potatoes and leeks in broth

Boil in the broth until soft, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

potatoes and leeks in broth in blender

Let cool, then blend until pureed.  (If  you have a immersion blender, you blend it in the pot.)

Cheese Soup (no cream or butter!)

shredded Jarlsberg cheese

Add 1 cup low-fat Jarlsberg or sharp cheddar cheese to pureed soup, stir until melted.

No cream added Mushroom Soup


Make potato-leek soup. Quarter 10 mushrooms for each 2 cups of potato-leek soup. Boil soup and cook mushrooms on medium for 10 min. You can blend a few spoonfuls of mushrooms in the broth. That’s it. It’s practically non-fat.

Mushroom-cheese Soup

Add cheese to mushroom soup.

Cauliflower with cheese and Mushroom Sauce


cauliflowerets cooked in broth

Boil cauliflowerets in broth for 5 minutes until soft, then remove with slotted spoon. Pour cheese and mushroom soup over them and top with minced fresh chives.

cauliflower cheese and mushroom soup

Cauliflower Cheese and Mushroom Soup

Blend a few spoonfuls of cooked cauliflower into the cheese and mushroom soup, then pour a bowlful over cooked cauliflowerets. Top with fresh chives.

minced chives

Top soups with fresh minced chives.