Food + Wine

Tom Kha Gai – soup for you!

Who feels like a warm hug from something beautiful and foreign right about now?

Something colorful.  Something that looks a little different.  Something that opens up your mind to the possibilities and potential of things outside of our pristinely white walls.  Something you may be a little nervous about getting to know, maybe you’re even frightened to, but only because it’s unknown and unfamiliar… but something that once you get close to it and let it in, you realize it’s not all that dissimilar.  Maybe the presentation is a little different than what you’re used to seeing in your everyday life, but it’s all basically the same components once you get there.

It’s called acceptance.


Active curiosity.


But this post is about soup.


Look, sometimes when we can’t fix the big stuff, we have to start with something small, maybe even something seemingly unimportant; and hopefully, little by little, we start chipping away and peeling back those layers to find that, over time, you’ve made some significant progress.  Even if it’s just that you feel a little better about having to accept the bad stuff happening around you, it’s something.

It’s a start.

Food can do that, you know.

(So can makeup, I’ve found…but that’s a story for another post.)

Food can be therapeutic, it can bring people together, and it can express love.

So, here’s a bowl of one of my favorite soups that could not be easier to make, but is more beautiful and interestingly delicious than most.

Brought to you by a little white girl.

Thanks to lots of colorful ones.


( thai chicken coconut soup )

serves 6-8

In a large stockpot, add the following…

  • 6 cups chicken broth/stock – (that’s basically 1 quart sized carton + 1 14 oz can if you’re buying it… I prefer homemade, but if you’re buying it, I recommend Swanson, Kitchen Basics or  Pacific Foods)
  • 2 (14 oz) cans full fat coconut milk (look for brands without fillers or thickeners)
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • if you’re not planning on using canned straw mushrooms later, you will add in 8 oz. fresh shiitake or oyster, or maitake, or a combo now.  Discard stems and cut the caps into bite sized pieces.)
  • 1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
  • 8-10 kaffir lime leaves (fresh is best, but they’re easier to find dried in the spice aisle… if you can’t find them, or don’t feel like buying them, substitute the zest and juice or 2 limes… but save the juice for right before serving)
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled andcut into 3-4 inch pieces (take the back of your chef’s knife and give it a good whack to 1) make it easier to peel off the tough outer layer and 2) release the aroma and oils)
  • 3 green onions, roots removed and chopped into 3-4 inch pieces – both green and white parts
  • handful fresh cilantro- leaves + stems… don’t bother chopping
  • ~2 TB fish sauce, to taste 
  • ~TB sugar, to taste

Let everything come up to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Taste to adjust the fish sauce and sugar, adding more if necessary.  (You will get more tang from the fresh lime juice at serving time, but you want well rounded saltiness, a little sweetness and bright tanginess.)

Remove the kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass.  Or don’t.  I rarely do, but then make sure and tell my guests not to eat them.  You can also be super picky and take out the green onions and cilantro leaves that are sort of brown now, but I rarely do.

Add in…

  • 1 (15 oz) can straw mushrooms (if you didn’t use fresh)

Stir to warm the mushrooms through and serve.  I love serving this soup in black bowls… it really makes the colors pop.

Garnish with…

  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • chopped red chilis (and/or chili oil, or hot sauce such as Sriracha)
  • chopped green onions
  • a good squeeze of a fresh lime wedge, plus more on the side

Eat with love and a smile.

Thanks for reading, y’all.  You are loved, appreciated and honored.

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  • Reply Gail January 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Can’t wait to make this! Thanks, Abbey.

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