Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup
This delicious soup is based on a traditional Thai dish, tom yung gai. It features what I think of as the definitive Thai flavoring, lemongrass, combined with chicken, coconut milk, and, for heat, sambal.
I've followed the time-honored Thai method, and left large pieces of lemongrass in the soup, but you can strain them out before serving, if you like. (If you leave them in, you might want to warn diners that they're not to be eaten.)
This works beautifully as a first course, or serve it as a light lunch with a salad dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
4 lemongrass stalks, pale parts only, crushed with the flat side of a knife
2 medium onions, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 Thai or serrano chiles, stemmed but not seeded, minced (optional)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
6 cups Master Chicken Broth or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice of 2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion greens
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the lemongrass, stir, and sweat it, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Add the onions and chiles, if using, and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and sauté until opaque, about 1 minute. Add the fish sauce and broth, stir, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly to intensify its flavor, 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with the scallions, and serve.