Cambodian lemongrass soup

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I found the original soup recipe in the Oregonian 8 to 10 years ago and have been slowly adjusting the ingredients to suit my palate. I no longer have the original article or follow the original directions, but that was where the soup originally came from.

Get yourself some large bowls because you will not want to eat anything else during the meal when you start on a bowl of this soup.

Servings:
2 to 4
Preparation Time:
0.5 hours

Tools

  • cutting board and knife
  • 2 to 3 qt. soup pot (taller than it is wide)
  • large fine mesh strainer
  • large ceramic or pyrex bowl (holds all of the cooked soup - metal bowls cool too fast)
  • cover for bowl (large plate, baking sheet, or foil)

Ingredients
Place into pot

  • 4 stalks fresh lemongrass (remove dry tops and outer layer(s), bruise, cut into 3" pieces)
  • 1 head fresh garlic (remove loose paper and bruise)
  • 1/2" fresh galanga (peel and bruise, or use 2 dry pieces)
  • 2 slices candied ginger (or 1" fresh ginger, peeled and bruised; plus 1 t. sugar)
  • 1 t. cracked peppercorns (I use mix of blacks, whites, and green)
  • 2 dry whole chiles (I use one tien tsin and one dundicut)
  • 1/4 c. dry flavourful white rice (I use jasmine)
  • 2 t. fish sauce
  • 1 t. mushroom soy sauce
  • 4 c. cold liquid (chicken broth, vegetable broth, and/or water)

Place into large bowl

  • 6-10 fresh scallions (cut into 1/2" pieces)
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil and/or mint leaves (Use the Thai basil. The Italian basil does not taste quite right. Do not use dry basil!)
  • minced zest & juice of 1 lime
  • 1 t. chile or chile-garlic paste (I like XO.)
  • 5 whole kaffir lime leaves

Final ingredient(s)

  • 3 lb. frying chicken (skinned, boned, cut into bite size pieces), or
  • 3 c. firm tofu (cut into bite size pieces) and/or chopped mushrooms

Cooking Instructions

  • If using tofu; drain and remove from package, wrap in a towel, place something heavy on top of it.
  • Meanwhile...
  • Prepare and place lemon grass, garlic, galanga, ginger, peppercorns, chiles, rice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and cold liquid into the soup pot.
  • Cover pot. Place on high heat. Wait until it starts to boil. Turn down just enough to keep from boiling over and wait 15 to 20 minutes. (You are adding flavours and texture to the broth.)
  • Strain the broth into the large bowl, toss out what is in the strainer, return the broth to the pot, cover and place on low heat.
  • Prepare and place the scallions, basil, mint, lime zest, lime juice, chile paste, and lime leaves into the large bowl. (The remaining heat in the bowl will start to activate the oils in the herbs.)
  • If using tofu and/or mushrooms; prepare, add to large bowl, and gently toss with other ingredients.
  • If using chicken; prepare the meat (discard skin, save bones for stock) and add to the pot.
  • Bring pot back to boil for 5 minutes. Stir to keep from boiling over.
  • Turn off heat. Skim and discard any white froth from top of broth.
  • Pour broth (and chicken) into large bowl. Stir and cover. Wait 5 minutes.
  • Serve over bowls of cooked rice or noodles.

Source:
Oregonian
Notes
Using this preparation and cooking order, the last thing to touch the cutting board and knife is the raw chicken. You can wash these up as soon as you get the chicken into the pot.

I have also used shrimp and/or halibut instead of chicken in this soup. Add the fish to the pot after the broth comes back to the boil. Stir gently and let it come back to the boil again for 1 minute.