Recently, B arrived home from tour and I decided to make a nice dinner for his first night home.
Word of advice: Homecoming meals should be recipes you with which you are familiar! Otherwise, there’s pressure for a great meal because it’s a special evening and when things go wrong, tempers flare and suddenly F*^k! becomes the theme of the evening!
Okay, it didn’t get THAT bad…but it could have. So next time your Lovely returns home from a trip, make grilled cheese sandwiches or a veggie platter. Don’t stress yourself out.
My friend Jen sent me a link for a Thai Coconut Soup that she had found on the Food Network and made not too long ago. She told me it was restaurant quality soup and since I love Thai food, I thought I would try it!
It wasn’t as easy as it seemed, but after a few hiccoughs, we figured it out…added a few things and had an awesome soup to go with dinner!
Rather than reprinting the recipe here, I figured I’d simply leave the link for you to click on: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/thai-coconut-chicken-soup-recipe/index.html
I did, however, add some ingredients and do a few things a bit differently than called for in the recipe so feel free to read on!
The quality of the pictures in this post are questionable. I recently got an iPhone and decided to use its camera to take shots of the soup in process. You can tell I’m still figuring out the iPhone camera nuances 😉
So, first thing I did differently…I cheated with my chicken stock!
Yep, that’s my quart of chicken stock. It was a last minute decision to make the soup and I decided to save time by buying a prepared base. I won’t argue that a home-made stock would probably make this soup even more amazing!
I had a hard time finding lemongrass…mainly because I didn’t actually know what I was looking for. I finally went into a small vegetable market near my home and asked the owners who sent me towards the back, waving their hands and saying “yes, it is there!”
I saw a Lemongrass sign, nowhere near the actual lemongrass. Eventually, I identified it by making a small scratch in the root and smelling that sweet lemony aroma. It was a tougher and stalkier plant than I expected.
The instructions for prepping the lemongrass are as follows: “1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife”. Perhaps there is a process here with which I’m just not familiar…I cut one stalk in half and then into smaller lengths…about 2-3″ long.
Once the stock was boiling, you were meant to add…well, mostly all the things that you won’t be eating ;)…ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, thai chilies and garlic.
I wasn’t able to find authentic Thai chilies…so I settled for some tiny red ones that I was assured were HOT. B emphasized how careful I had to be when dealing with them. He told me to try and handle them by their stems and after prepping them to NOT touch my eyes, my face…well, any of myself!
I’d never worked with peppers like those so I did my best to be uber-careful.
Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of me awkwardly holding down the chillies with a fork, while trying to cut them open and scrape out their seeds with my oversized chef’s knife, all arms and elbows. It was freakin’ funny…would have been Awkward Picture of the Year for sure!
The other ingredient that was fun to hunt for was kaffir lime leaves. Again, my nose pointed the way and I found them in a market in Chinatown, pretty much by smell. 🙂
For mushrooms, I decided to use Shiitake mushrooms.
Next time, I think I would go with a different choice. I found them a bit chewy for soup but they still tasted good…it was an interesting experiment!
In additional to the stock, there were a few other ways that I ended up diverging from the recipe.
I added chopped red pepper.
B helped me juice the limes and we only used juice from two instead of our as it seemed to be quite a lot.
We also, eventually, added two tablespoons of plain yogourt. This addition came about at tasting time. Once the coconut milk and other ingredients had been added and simmered for awhile, I tasted the soup and found it incredibly tart! It was a let-down and I was already stressed because I was also making dumplings at the same time (Yeah…don’t do that!), so I called out dramatically to B that the soup was somewhat bleh and we may have to fall back on handy-dandy tuna sandwiches or some other mundane food for dinner.
He tried it and proclaimed it salvageable. I’m really glad he did! After the addition of the yogourt to control the tartness, and a little more time simmering, it turned into a lovely, lightly spiced, soup!