Coop’s Soup: A Venture into Thai

Cooper Nelson, Staff Writer

I say Thai-style because this recipe is based loosely on Thai soups I have tried. The following really isn’t a Thai soup, so I would feel bad if I labeled it so. This is my own creation. I’ve become somewhat familiar with the flavors of Thai cuisine, and this is my attempt to reproduce those flavors.

Thai soups, like many Asian soups, are broth based. To me, it’s the star player. So when I tried making this soup, I focused on the broth.

A good Thai-style broth uses these ingredients: A stock or water, coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffer lime leaves, galangal, chilies, chili paste, fish sauce and brown or white sugar. Ingredients like the lime leaves and lemongrass are used to flavor the stock, but are not eaten when served. Like me, you will probably make the mistake of trying to eat a stalk of lemongrass hidden in your soup. But that’s okay. That is how we learn.

Keeping those flavors in mind, here is my cheap and easy way of creating a fine Thai-style soup. You may call it cheating; I call it lunch.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
4 cups chicken stock or dashi
1½ to 2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
½ tsp chili paste (or to taste)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

Bring the broth to a simmer. Add the flavorings and taste as you go so you don’t overdo any ingredient. You are looking for a salty, sweet and most importantly citrusy brew. When you have the flavor you desire, add whatever ingredients you enjoy. I like cubed chicken, whole mushrooms and chopped scallions. When adding ingredients, you will want big chunks. Let the ingredients simmer for about 10 minutes, and when the meat is thoroughly cooked, bowl it up and serve with extra scallions.

You will notice that this uses hardly any of those Thai-style ingredients I mentioned above. This is because I don’t see myself buying lemongrass, lime leaves or fish sauce very often. Remember: while I imitate the Thai-style, this is an American manipulation.

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