I was hungry for something spicy, and had a few odds an ends lying around, so I decided to make this soup. It is very spicy, but can be made less so by diminishing or leaving out the chili.
I’ll admit this is a bit difficult to write up, because I wasn’t measuring and had to guess how much of what to add, but I think that if you follow the approximate measurements and then adjust to your tastes, you’ll have something very nice.
- cutting board and several size knives
- large soup pot
- small pot
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 qt chicken stock
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 leek
- 1 bundle spring onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 bundle cilantro
- 1 bundle basil
- 5 kefir lime leaves
- 3 stalks of lemongrass, or about 2 Tbsp minced, preserved lemongrass (found in tiny jars)
- a large ginger lobe, about 2 inches square or larger
- red and green Thai chili (I’d get about 10 of each, looking for the ones that are fat on one end, but curled and shriveled on the other. If you’re not able to tolerate that much, cut it back to two in the pot and about six in the oil. If you want more and are tickled at the notion of the punishment, add several ghost chilies.)
- baby corn
- 2 heads of bok choi
- button mushrooms, about 1 c.
- 1 tomato
- 5 limes
- bean sprouts
- fish sauce
- a little olive oil
- Vermicelli noodles
- Mince 1/2 the onion, the garlic, ginger. Chop up the cilantro, especially the stems. Pluck the leaves off the Basil. Cut about 1/2 the leek into ringlets. Bisect two of each color chili, discard the seeds, and mince the meat. Pound the lemongrass to release the aromatics, then chop into segments. Cut the tomato into quarters.
- In the large pot, place the chopped onion, leek, garlic, ginger, 1/2 the basil leaves, kefir lime leaves, 1/2 the minced cilantro (stems and leaves), lemongrass, and the chopped chilies. Drizzle with oil and then toss this over medium heat until you can really smell the elements.
- Add chicken stock and chicken breasts. Toss in the tomato. Add the juice of 3 limes. add about a quarter cup of fish sauce.
- When this is boiling, add the mushrooms, corn, and the leaves of the bok choi.
- Allow to boil until the chicken is cooked, then remove the chicken. On the cutting board, shred the chicken and return it to the soup. This will be your opportunity to taste the soup and determine what it needs. It should have a tangy, citrus flavor, but be spicy and richly savory too. If it appears to be missing anything, add more ginger, lemongrass, or fish sauce.You can also add stock cubes or bouillon. Then allow the thing to boil a little longer
- While this is boiling, put the vermicelli noodles in the small pot. Add whatever you like to the water (I usually put a bit of lemongrass and some lime in) and cook through. When done boiling, it’s best to shock the noodles with cold water as they drain in the colander, in order to stop the cooking process.
- While everything is cooking, prepare your condiments. Remove and discard the seeds from all but two of the chilies and mince the meat. Place these into a small dish. Mince the last two chilies whole and add to the same dish. Smother this in about a cup of fish sauce and set aside
- Quarter the remaining limes, mince the green onion and remaining cilantro. On a plate, arrange the lime segments, bean sprouts, cilantro, the remaining basil leaves, and the green onion.
To serve, put a lump of noodles into each bowl. Fill with soup. garnish with a lime segment, a few basil leaves, green onion, cilantro, and been sprouts. Each person can add the chili-infused fish sauce (by spooning out only the oil) to their bowl if they wish. It also keeps very well and becomes hotter as it sits. I also have a lovely jar of Tom Yum Chili Oil that I add to this. This soup can easily be adapted to shrimp, or even thinly sliced pork.