Thai Soup: Tom Ka Gai

bowl of thai coconut soupThis traditional Thai soup uses coconut milk and fish sauce for its flavorful base.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced in half-moons

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons grated gingerroot

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 6-8-inch stalk lemongrass

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2-3 cups water

14 ounces coconut milk (canned)

3-4 tablespoons fish sauce

1 large baby bok choy, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in small soup pot over medium heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and salt; sauté until onions are translucent. Add ginger, red pepper, coriander, and cumin; cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Bisect lemongrass stalk lengthwise and remove small core at bottom. Chop 1/2 inch or so of stalk where it is most tender. Add chopped lemongrass to other spices and set aside remainder of stalk. Tenderize chicken breast with a meat pounder on both sides and cut diagonally in thin strips. Add chicken to onion and spices and cook, stirring until chicken is white on the outside. Stir in water, coconut milk, fish sauce, and unchopped lemongrass stalk. Simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked and flavors are well blended (15 to 20 minutes).

Add bok choy and cilantro and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove lemongrass stalk before serving.

Preparation: 1 hour

Makes 4 servings