As the weather gets cooler we find the idea of soup more and more appealing. This soup especially has that flavor, sourness, sweetness and heat that is quite comforting and opens up the nasal passages. The recipe is forgiving but you will need some special ingredients to do it right. You must use fresh lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves, which can be found in an Asian market. The recipe calls for Galangal but you can substitute Ginger for it. The leftover Kaffir lime leaves can be frozen. Classicly made with shrimp, I decided to make this one with chicken since we had it in the freezer. Lemongrass and ginger can have a grainy and off putting texture. I put them in a cheese cloth bag so I could remove them after they had imparted their flavor.
I made this in my Instant Pot, but you could easily simmer it on the stove top, just cook it longer.
If you use shrimp instead of chicken, add them right at the end of cooking.
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 stalks lemon grass
5 slices of galangal or ginger, no need to peel
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon gochugaru or other dried chili such as cayenne
3 Kaffir lime leaves
3/4 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tomato, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste, or to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk, or more to taste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 limes, cut into wedges
cilantro, coarsely chopped for garnish
1. Crush lemongrass with a mallet and cut into 2 inch chunks. Cut diagonal slits in lemongrass leaving them whole. Tear Kaffir leaves. Using cheese cloth and string, create a bouquet garni with the lemongrass stalks, Kaffir leaves and the galangal slices.
2. In an Instant Pot, add bouquet garni, chicken, chicken stock, garlic, gochugaru, mushrooms, bell pepper, tomato, fish sauce, lime wedges, and coconut milk.
3. Stir and taste for heat and salt and adjust accordingly.
4. Put on lid and cook under pressure for 40 minutes. Carefully release pressure.
5. Remove bouquet garni. Adjust seasoning.
6. Serve over white rice or rice noodles, topping with chopped cilantro.