Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass
From the kitchen of Jean-Georges: Cooking At Home with a Four-Star Chef (Broadway Books, 1998).
Makes 4 servings
A more-or-less traditional Thai dish that has been on the Vong menu since its opening, this combines bright flavors and a lovely combination of colors. The soup is yellow, with brown shiitake, white chicken, and bright green cilantro peeking through the broth.
The base of this can be prepared in advance and, in fact, tastes better when it is done a day ahead.
To turn into a main course, increase the amount of chicken to a pound or more, and serve with white rice, which can be eaten on the side or spooned into the soup.
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon canola, grapeseed, or other neutral-flavored oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste or curry powder
- six 1/8-inch-thick slices galangal or ginger, not peeled
- 3 lime leaves, dried or fresh
- 4 cups rich chicken stock
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
- one 13- to 14- ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons nam pla or nuoc mam (Asian fish sauce)
- 3 scallions, trimmed and minced on the diagonal
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- Trim the lemongrass of its outer sheath and hard ends, whack it in a few places with the back of a knife, then cut it into 2 or 3 pieces.
- In a deep skillet or medium saucepan, combine the oil, onion, and garlic and turn the heat to medium.
- Cook a minute, stirring, then add the lemongrass, curry paste, galangal or ginger, and lime leaves.
- Cook, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the stock.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and cook at a moderate boil for about 15 minutes.
- (You may prepare the recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 days.)
- While the broth cooks, cut the chicken breast into ½- to ¾-inch cubes.
- Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard or reserve for stock; cut the caps into quarters or eighths.
- Add the coconut milk, then the chicken and the mushrooms to the broth.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
- Stir in the lime juice and nam pla; taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide among 4 bowls, then garnish with the scallions and cilantro and serve.
- You may remove the galangal and lemongrass before serving, or leave them in; they are delicious to gnaw on at the table.