Monday, February 8, 2016

Thai'm for Soup

I LOVE Thai food and could eat it almost every day.  But it's often full of date sugar and when you're getting it at a restaurant you don't know how much oil they are using or what type.

So other than going to our local place for their spring rolls or takeout on nights we both end up working unexpectedly late , I make my own now.

Today's recipe  - a coconut milk soup known as Tom Kha Gai.   I have about 3 recipes for this and combined elements of all of them to get a version that's easy yet complex in taste, with a rich mouth feel to it.  This version is Vegetarian and makes for a filling, light supper for two with enough leftover for a lunchtime bowl the next day. It's fairly high in fat (about 23 grams per serving) if you use the full fat coconut milk) but coconut oil, unlike  other saturated fats is good for you.  I eat some virgin (avoid the refined type) coconut oil every single day, either in cooking or in smoothies and I have a total cholesterol of 105 and bad cholesterol of 29, even eating non factory farm meat or eggs on the weekend. My doctor says for someone post menopause in their late 50's those are incredible numbers.

You can make this with vegetable stock or vegetarian "chicken" broth. I prefer the "chicken broth" taste to it.  Yes, you can make your own that's really delicious and made from just veggies.   The recipe is at the Oh My Veggies blog.

Or you can get lazy like I did last night and just use a couple of cans of Amy's no chicken chicken soup and strain off the protein bits (tofu) and noodles to have for lunch another day. If you're watching sodium, simply use some veggie stock flavored with herbs such as basil. A note: there are some vegan "chicken" bullion products out there, but many of them contain MSG.

The only thing I had to buy special was the lemongrass seasoning which I didn't use before and fish sauce. Lemongrass looks like little dried sticks of grass and was found with the general spices in the grocery store.    Fish sauce is not vegan, but it's a must for Thai cooking in my household, not knowing of a vegan substitute, and is used in place of salt in a lot of cooking in that part of the world.
I used the Red Boat brand which is gluten free and made from simply freshly caught black anchovies and sea salt.

I will give a disclaimer here.  Outside of the occasional tuna salad sandwich with lots of may and pickles, which I do NOT eat for my health,  I do NOT like fish, unless it's breaded, deep fried and dipped in tartar sauce and is served as a side dish to beer. So I am not going to be enamored by something that tastes "fishy".  This doesn't, it just gives a richness to the dishes that is wonderful (including the stir fry on the top picture which we made for company).

I bought mine on Amazon, and it will last about a year after opening.
The veggies all sunk to the bottom but with a little fresh basil - a wonderful bowl of soup.

So - ready for an adventure?

You will need
2 cups of broth
1 can of light or full fat unsweetened coconut milk (you will note on opening that the fats in the coconut milk will solidify and look like Crisco  Just put it all in the pan and it will melt as it heats).
1 Tablespoon finely minced sweet onion
1/2 of a small jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
1 stalk lemongrass cut into four pieces
7 slices of peeled, fresh ginger (sliced very thin)
3/4 cup of mixed vegetables (I use baby peas, tiny pieces of carrot and a few sliced mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat broth and  coconut oil until a gentle boil.  Reduce heat and add onion, jalapano, lemongrass and ginger and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Add vegetables, cover and simmer until the veggies are soft (about 10 minutes if the carrot pieces are very fine.).  If you wish to add a few pieces of Tofu for extra protein, add it with in here before the simmer.

Stir in sugar, fish sauce and the lime juice and remove from heat.  Let sit for a couple of minutes for the flavors to blend, then, using a slotted spoon to remove the ginger and lemon grass pieces which float to the top as you stir.  Serve with a little fresh cilantro or basil if you like.


  1. Hari OM
    Am a HUGE fan of Eastern tastes and particularly Thai.. fish sauce is of course out for vegetarians; but what is used instead is tamarind and lime and a wee bit of miso. These combine to add that depth of pungency required for these dishes... hhmm.... and I was wondering what to make for tea just now! off I go...
    Eyes-on... YAM xx

  2. I love Thai too. That looks so good. I have seen coconut oil and I thought that I had heard that it was good for you. I am allergic to fish so I wonder how this would do? I know what you mean about the oils they cook in. Im also allergic to peanut oil so I have to really be careful.


    1. I think you can take Yam-Aunty's suggestion and replace the fish sauce with tamari and a bit of lime and miso.


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