Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Jewish penicillin by another name - Thai Style Chicken Rice soup
Jewish penicillin by another name - Thai Style Chicken Rice soup

I’ve always been a big believer in the prescription of chicken soup for curing colds, flus, and other illnesses. Countless generations of bubbies can’t be wrong! And nothing soothes the soul and smoothes jangled nerves on a cold rainy day more than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

This past year I discovered the chicken soup of another ethnic cuisine that just blows away all the rest; Thai style chicken rice soup! Although it seems somewhat exotic, it is definitive comfort food with a cultural twist. It is also the perfect tonic for the spring fever some of us may be experiencing right now, with sunny 70+ degree days sandwiched between snow storms.

This incredible elixir is complex in flavor but still soothing to the soul. Fragrant with ginger, lime and cilantro, one whiff will perk up the appetite of the even the most sluggish illness-numbed taste buds. A gentle spiciness, compliments of the Thai green curry paste, opens up clogged sinuses. That spiciness is tempered by a small amount of coconut milk, which also adds a light creaminess without the addition of dairy.

And the recipe is so easy even a cook burdened with a cold can prepare it. But don’t wait for foul weather or a bad cold to try this.

This takes less than an hour to make, but may also be prepared in two steps of 25 minutes each.

Thai Style Chicken and Rice Soup
Adapted from Gourmet magazine

Yield: 4 servings

4 cups chicken broth (I like Better Than Boullion)
2 cups water
1/2 tablespoon Thai green curry paste
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup raw jasmine rice
1/2 can (3/4 cup) unsweetened coconut milk, shaken
3 oz fresh snow peas, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch strips
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt to taste

Accompaniment: lime wedges

Combine stock, water, curry paste, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, and whole cilantro leaves and stems in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, until ginger is softened, about 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve into a large bowl or other container. Discard solids, rinse sieve and strain again, back into the pot.

Bring to a simmer and add chicken breast to the pot. Return to a simmer. If making the soup in advance, cover the pot, turn off the heat and allow the chicken breast to cook in the residual heat of the broth. When cool place in refrigerator and complete recipe at a later time.

If making soup immediately, simmer chicken until cooked, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and set aside.

Return broth to a simmer. Add rice and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut and pull cooked chicken into small bite-sized pieces.

When rice is tender, add snow peas and cook until crisp tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add chicken to pot. Stir in coconut milk and fish sauce and cook until heated through. Add lime juice and salt to taste. S

tir in chopped cilantro and serve with fresh lime wedges on the side.

Note- The rice in any leftover soup will absorb the broth, making it thick and no longer a soup. If making to serve on a different day, follow the instructions to make it in two steps.

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