This is my highly modified version of Tom Kha soup. I modify it because I do not always have all of the traditional ingredients for Tom Kha here in Walla Walla. I also like to have both meat and a plethora of vegetables in my soup.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 medium broccoli head
- 1 medium onion
- 6 cremini mushrooms
- 2 large carrots
- 1/2 cup snow peas
- two inches of fresh ginger root
- 1 lime
- (optional) 2-3 kaffir lime leaves, if you can get your hands on them
- 4 pieces of lemon grass
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 can coconut milk
- one bunch cilantro
- (optional ) 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
Remove the outer, tough leaves of the lemongrass, trim off the roots and the long grassy tip. Then take a large, blunt object like a pestle or the butt-end of a knife, and smash the heck out of it. Slice the bruised lemongrass into 1/4 inch circles. Place these in a large soup pot with 4 cups of chicken broth. Next, slice the ginger root into thin circles. Place them in the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a medium simmer for 20 minutes. This will help the broth absorb the flavors of the lemongrass and ginger. If you happen to have access to kaffir lime leaves, add 2-3 of them to the broth during the simmer.
While your broth is nicely infusing itself with the flavor of your aromatic herbs, place a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and begin browning the chicken breast cubes. Make sure they are browned on all sides. For extra multi-tasking, chop all the veggies to nice bite-sized portions- broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. Slice the mushrooms.
Once the chicken is browned, mince the onion and add it to the skillet. Sauté until beginning to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, the broccoli and carrots and sauté for another 2-3 minute. You do not want to over cook these veggies, because you will be adding them to the broth. This is just a light tease of sautéing. Now if your broth has been simmering for 20 minutes or more, you can decide if you would like to strain out the herbs, or leave them in. If you leave them in, you will need to pick out the lemongrass chunks as you eat. I, personally, am too lazy to strain.
Add the whole caboodle (chicken, onion, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and the still fresh snow peas) to your broth. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce, cut and squeeze your lime into the soup. Optional add a tsp of red chili pepper flakes at this time, or let people spice their own soup with hot chili sauce like Siracha. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Spoon into bowls. Garnish with green onions and cilantro, and enjoy.