Chicken soup from Mai Pham

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Thai chicken soup with coconut milk and galanga

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Stacy Myers of Sacramento enjoys the Thai chicken soup served at La Bou and has been looking for the recipe for some time.

Donna Hannickel of El Dorado Hills shares this recipe that comes from Mai Pham’s “The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking, Favorite Recipes from Lemon Grass Restaurant and Cafes” (Prima Publishing, 274 pages, $26.95). Pham is the owner of Lemon Grass Restaurant; her husband founded the La Bou Bakery/Café chain in Sacramento.

Pham says: “For richer broth increase the proportion of coconut milk to chicken stock. For a thinner broth, reduce the ratio of coconut milk to chicken stock. Or, substitute regular, lowfat or nonfat cows’ milk for the coconut milk. Advise guests not to eat the galanga and lime leaves – they are for flavoring only.”

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced lemon grass

1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground chili paste, or to taste

One 1-inch section frozen or fresh galanga, thinly sliced and bruised with the back of a knife

3 cups homemade unsalted or canned low-sodium chicken stock

2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

1/3 pound chicken breasts or thighs, skinned, boned and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup straw or white mushrooms

1 cup cubed red ripe tomato

½ tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 kaffir lime leaves, cut in half

6 fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped, for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until moderately hot. Add the shallot, garlic, lemon grass, chili flakes and chili paste and brown slightly, about 30 seconds. Working quickly and without burning the spices, add the galanga, chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and add the chicken, mushrooms and tomato. As soon as it comes to a second boil, turn off the heat and add the lime juice and lime leaves and serve immediately. Garnish with the cilantro.