Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tom Yum Soup, two ways

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

5-6 cups good-tasting vegetable or faux chicken stock (makes 4 servings)
1-2 stalks lemongrass , minced (see link below), OR 3-4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes
1-2 red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin matchstick-like pieces
1 cup fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake) , sliced
2 cups baby bok choy, leaves separated or chopped if large, OR substitute broccoli or bell pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
1 tsp. brown sugar
3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)
1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup fresh basil + 1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped

Pour stock into a soup pot. If making the stock from cubes or powder, but sure to make it strong (if it tastes good on its own, it will make for a better Tom yum soup!). Now add the prepared lemongrass, plus the lime leaves, chili, garlic, and galangal or ginger. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, or until broth is very fragrant.
Add the mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.
Add the bok choy and cherry tomatoes. Gently simmer 1-2 more minutes (bok choy should remain on the crisp side).
Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Finally, add the soft tofu and gently stir.
Do a taste-test, adding more chili or chili sauce if not spicy enough. If not salty enough, add more soy sauce or a little more stock cube/powder or salt. Add 1 more tsp. sugar if too sour. If too salty or sweet, add another squeeze of lime juice.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls with fresh basil and coriander sprinkled over. Enjoy!

Regular Tom Yum Soup

3-4 cups chicken stock (this makes enough soup to serve 2 people)
1 stalk lemongrass, lower 1/3 finely minced (for instructions on how to prepare lemongrass, see link below)
3 kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
12-14 medium or large raw shrimp, shelled
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1-2 small red chilies, minced OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
optional: a handful of cherry tomatoes
generous handful fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 green and/or red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 can coconut milk (add more or less to taste)
1/3 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
optional: additional red chilies, OR Nam Prik Pao Chili Sauce (1-2 tsp.)
optional: 1 tsp. brown sugar, and a sqeeze of lime juice

Pour stock into a deep cooking pot and turn heat to medium-high.
Add processed lemongrass  to the pot, including the parts of the lemongrass stalk you didn't slice. Boil for 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Add shrimp, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes (if using). Cook 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and plump.
Turn down the heat to low and add 1/2 can coconut milk plus fish sauce. Test-test the soup for spice and salt, adding more chili and/or fish sauce (instead of salt) as desired. If too sour for your taste, add 1 tsp. brown sugar; if too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk if you want your soup richer/creamier, or if it's too spicy for your taste.

This is a great soup if you like Lime leaves and lemongrass. I'm a little partial to disliking them both, and have made this without, but for those that love the flavors try it!

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