Monday, February 27, 2012

Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup

I love making soup in the winter.  You can make tons to freeze for easy lunches or dinners and most soups taste even better if you make them ahead.

Their one fault?  They don't photograph well.  Or at least I dont possess the skills to photograph them well.  So I gave up with this one because each picture looked worse than the one before and I didn't want anything making it look bad in your eyes, because it is a fabulous soup.

If you have never had lemongrass you are in for a treat.  The best way I can think to describe it is "fresh".  Yes, a stale word I know, but it really does grab the essence.  Think fresh mowed grass.  Or fresh ocean breeze.  Freshly air-dried laundry.

You get the picture.

If you don't like spicy food you can leave out the chiles altogether and still have an amazing chicken soup.  I served it (several times) over brown rice and it was a hit each and every time.

Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup (Adapted from Ming Tsai)

1 tablespoon canola oil
4 lemongrass stalks, pale parts only, crushed with the flat side of a knife
1 medium onion, chopped 
1-2 serrano or Thai chiles, stemmed and chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1 cup frozen green peas
6 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 cup light coconut milk (or use the whole can if you like a creamy soup)
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the lemongrass, stir, and sweat it, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Add the onions and chiles, if using, and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and sauté until opaque, about 1 minute. Add the fish sauce, peas and broth, stir, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly to intensify its flavor, 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk, spinach and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve over brown rice.

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