Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tom Ka Gai soup

To get things going on here, and get everyone excited about making soups, I decided to do an extra post this week!

This is one of my most often made soups. I tend to make it for company often because it's fun; different than your average soup. I'm addicted to Asian flavors and find this combination irresistibly delicious. I have seen versions of it at many restaurants but I find this recipe better than theirs.

When I first met my husband, he told me he did not like soups. I found that very odd and quite unfair. How could anyone make a blanket statement like that? I found out his only exposure to soups were from Campbell's and Progresso. So, I didn't blame him. This was one of the first soups I got him to try and he loved it! I think you will too. This recipe is loosely based off one I found in a Cuisine At Home magazine many years ago. It is also gluten and egg-free for any of you with allergies.

A few tips about this recipe before you start cooking:

1. Don't be afraid of or skimp on the ginger root or pepper, without them the soup lacks depth and "punch".
2. If you don't normally cook with fish sauce and coconut milk in your house, you can find them in the asian markets or in the asian food section in the normal grocery store.
3. Don't omit the heavy cream in the recipe. I know it seems insignificant but, believe me, it really is not the same without it. If you have a milk allergy, I would suggest using full fat coconut milk and maybe substitute 1/2 cup of the chicken broth with more coconut milk. That should help it.
4. If you like really spicy foods, go ahead and leave the seeds from the jalapeno in. I believe it has plenty of kick without them. The original recipe called for a serrano chile but my supermarket has a hard time keeping good-looking ones in their store and I often have a jalepeno around so.... oh, and use a fresh one, not the bottled kind.
5.  I personally love the lime flavor with it, but if you only have lemon, that actually works great too.  I've often done a mix of lemon zest and lime juice. If you can find all means, use a stalk instead and discard it before serving and your soup will be all the more authentic.
6. Cremini (or baby bella) mushrooms are the easiest to find and work great. I have used dried, and reconstituted, shiitake mushrooms and they were fantastic. You definitely need a darker mushroom to give it the right flavor...none of the white button kind will do.
7. I've tried making it a one-dish meal by adding in a starch (like potatoes or noodle) but found that it detracted from it. Instead, I love serving it with a nice crusty bread and salad.

1/4 cup shallots, chopped (or yellow onion)
1/4 cup green onion
1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp of lime zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (13-14 oz) lite coconut milk
3 TBSP fish sauce
3 TBSP lime juice
2 TBSP heavy cream
1 TBSP white sugar
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 cups cremini or shiitake mushrooms
1 cup cooked and cubed chicken or turkey
chopped fresh cilantro and/or mint
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions, ginger, zest, and garlic in oil in a saucepan over medium heat for a minute. (smell the wonderful flavors) Add broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, cream and sugar. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in japaneno, mushrooms and chicken. Simmer for 3 more minutes to heat through. Garnish each bowl with chopped herbs.

Makes 4-6 servings

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