Apparently I’m one of those people who gets sick on vacation. I spent the last five days in Manuel San Antonio, Costa Rica, and with two days left on my wonderful vacation, I began to feel that gross phlemy throat feeling that is my body saying, oh good job, here’s a cold. Then my nose started to get stuffy. Then runny. Then coughing and that lovely headache. Luckily this illness has mostly held off until I returned stateside, and that means it’s time for SOUP.
This is the soup that my roommate Jason and I make anytime we’re feeling under the weather. We want liquids. And hot and spicy liquids? Even better. I’ve made this more than any other soup, but beware if I’m making it for you, for it’s not for the faint of heart and you may feel like breathing fire.
Tom ka gai is a spicy coconut chicken soup that is made with a base of chicken stock and coconut milk, then gets a spice from hot peppers and an immune boost from lemon and ginger. Here’s to feeling better.
Tom Ka Gai Soup
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 quart of chicken stock
- a few slices of galangal root (this is a Thai ginger root that can be found in most Asian sections of your grocery store)
- 2-4 stalks of lemongrass, sliced lengthwise (my grocery store didn’t have stalks, so I used this weird tube stuff, but better than nothing. you need that lemongrass flavor to really make this soup)
- 1-2 serrano peppers, sliced thin (I use 2 peppers with seeds, but for a milder soup, use less pepper and remove the seeds on the pepper. also do not make the mistake of rubbing your eyes)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 knob of ginger (I sliced some thinly, then grated the rest)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- juice of a lemon and some zest
- 1 tablespoon of Sriracha (again, add less for less spice)
- a bunch of mushrooms (any variety will do, I used buttons)
- 1 chicken breasts
- 1/2 head of bok choy
- salt for seasoning
First and foremost, stick the chicken breasts into the freezer. When they’re a tiny bit frozen, it makes them waaaaay easier to slice thinly prior to adding to the soup.
Empty the can of coconut milk and chicken stock into a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. While the liquids are heating up and the coconut milk melting, cut the peppers, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger and add to the liquid. Add the galangal root, coriander, lemon juice and Sriracha and stir to combine.
While the soup is continuing to heat up, slice the mushrooms. Add to the soup. Let this cook together until the liquid just starts to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Take the chicken out of the freezer, slice thinly, and add to the soup. Continue to simmer and julienne the green portions of the bok choy.
Once the chicken is cooked through, add the bok choy and serve immediately. If you’re sick like I am, have plenty of tissues on standby because your nose is going to run like mad. Happy soup-ing!