Thai Cooking: Make Thai Green Curry Soup

My husband loved the Thai cuisine and gave me a Thai cookbook hoping to inspire me to cook it at home. I was all for it but reading through the recipes I realized that I wasn't going to have much luck. Lemongrass? Galangal? Kaffir lime leaves? I had no idea where to find these exotic ingredients so the cookbook got relegated to the "nice try" pile in the back of a cupboard.

Then about three years ago, I realized that many of these ingredients were now actually in my pantry so I revisited the book and started to cook. Many regular grocery stores and any Asian market should carry these ingredients. All kinds of cookbooks include Thai or Thai-inspired recipes and we are much more familiar with those tastes. So forget the take-away and we'll get you ready to cook.

Cooking oils: Peanut oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil

Canned and bottled goods: Soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, coconut milk ( I always use light coconut milk because it tastes the same but the difference in saturated fat is enormous), green curry paste

Dried ingredients: Sticky or glutinous rice or fragrant Thai rice, cellophane noodles, tamarind (it comes in pressed blocks)

Produce: Garlic, ginger, galangal (a relative of ginger). limes, kaffir lime leaves, Thai holy basil, lemongrass, bird's eye chilies (those are the very small red chilies which are extremely hot and should be handled with gloves when cleaning and cutting) or other hot chili, mint, coriander (also known as cilantro), tofu, mushrooms, red peppers, carrots

Spices: Coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, curry powder, Chinese five spice

Equipment: Wok, rice cooker, bamboo steamer

Thai Green Curry Soup Recipe

Difficulty Level: Easy

Now that you have your kitchen set up for Thai cooking, we are going to walk through a recipe to make a green curry soup. If you want you can add chicken to this recipe, otherwise it is vegetarian.

The ingredients you will need are peanut or vegetable oil, garlic, fresh ginger, green curry paste, chicken breast (if using), mushrooms, red pepper, chicken or vegetable stock or water, fish sauce, one tin of coconut milk, Chinese noodles, salt to taste.

Peel a clove of garlic and chop very finely. Cut off about 1 inch knob of ginger and peel it with the edge of a spoon. Chop ginger finely or use a grater. In a large pot, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil over a moderate heat. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a few minutes until garlic is golden. Do not allow it to burn or the garlic will be bitter.

If you are using chicken, cut it into bite size pieces and add to the pot. Saute the chicken until it is no longer pink on the outside.

Clean about 10 mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut the end off of the base of the mushrooms and slice fairly thinly. Take the red pepper and slice it in half from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and the white membrane and chop it into small pieces. You will need about half of the pepper for this soup so reserve the rest for another use. Add the peppers and mushrooms to the pot and stir for a minute or two.

Add between 1/4 teaspoon and 1 teaspoon of green curry paste, depending on how hot you like your soup. Add about six or seven cups of chicken or vegetable broth or of water. If you are using a commercial broth, you probably won't need to add any salt to your soup.

Add a tablespoon or so of the fish sauce. Don't let the truly awful smell of it put you off. It will taste good—really. You can bring the soup to a boil, but then turn it back down to a medium heat. If you boil it for long your chicken will be tough.

After 10 minutes or so add a couple of hands full of Chinese noodles and stir them in. They will take a few minutes to cook. Shake the tin of coconut milk well and add to the soup. Heat through.

This should make two generous bowls of soup.

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