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Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass

A more-or-less traditional Thai dish that has been on the Vong menu since its opening, this soup combines bright flavors and a lovely combination of colors. The soup is pale yellow with brown shiitake, white chicken, and bright green cilantro peeking through the broth. The base can be prepared in advance and, in fact, tastes better when it’s done a day ahead. To turn this starter 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.–Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman

LC Rich Chicken Stock Note

When Jean-Georges Vongerichten wrote this Thai-minded recipe, he specified Rich Chicken Stock as an ingredient. This isn’t a particular type of stock, per se, it’s simply how Jean-Georges refers to his basic chicken stock that’s rife with leeks and thyme and…well, heck, we’ll just give you the recipe. He studs 1 medium onion with 6 cloves and then tosses it in a stockpot along with 3 garlic cloves, 2 pounds chicken wings, 1 carrot, 1 bay leaf, 1 celery stalk, 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 very well rinsed leek, and 10 cups cold water. Bring it to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, skimming any froth or scum that appears on the surface. Cook for a total of 1 1/2 hours. Let cool slightly and then strain. Sorta surprising it isn’t more Asian in nature, although as you’ll taste from the resulting soup, it doesn’t need to be.

Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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, homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 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
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro

Directions

  • 1. Trim the lemongrass of its outer sheath and its hard ends. Whack the stalk in a few places with the back of a knife, then cut it into 2 or 3 pieces.
  • 2. 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.)
  • 3. While the broth cooks, cut the chicken breast into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard or reserve for stock; cut the caps into quarters or eighths.
  • 4. Add the coconut milk, then the chicken and the mushrooms to the broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
  • 5. 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.
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