The subtle sweet citrus flavor of lemongrass adds an intriguing fragrance to this traditional Thai soup. Lemongrass is a staple in Eastern curries, pastes, sauces, soups, stir frys, marinades and teas. Purchase fresh lemongrass at Asian markets, farmers markets, health food stores, and some grocers. Look for stalks that are light green, and avoid those that are yellow or brown. Fresh lemongrass will remain viable in the refrigerator for a few weeks. You can also freeze stalks that have been cleaned and cut into sections for use within a few months.
To prepare lemongrass, cut and discard any leaves off the top, then trim and discard the base bulb at the bottom. Peel and discard the tough outer layers to reach the inner core. Generally fresh lemongrass need only have the first couple layers removed. Older stalks will need another 2 or more removed. Cutting a slit down the length of the stalk will assist in removing layers. Then cut the inner stalk into 3” sections and crush the sections with a mallet or scraper to release the oils that produce its flavor. Alternatively, you can finely slice stalks into thin rings, though you must be certain no woody outer layer has been neglected. Both these methods are good for soups, curries, and stir frys. To infuse a paste, sauce or marinade, prepared lemongrass can be grated with a zester.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
½ onion sliced in half moons
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 stalk lemongrass
3 large bok choy leaves and stems, chopped
1 medium zucchini sliced in diagonal pieces
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
3 cups water
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
Prepare 1 lemongrass stalk.
Collect all ingredients and prepare onion, garlic, ginger, bok choy and zucchini as directed above.
Heat oil in a soup pot and saute onion and garlic until translucent.
Add ginger, fish sauce, curry paste and cook 2-3 minutes.
Add chicken and cook until done.
Add water and crushed lemon stalk.
Simmer 10-30 minutes until flavors blend and chicken is fully cooked and tender. Taste the broth and make any corrections as desired, such as more curry paste, fish sauce, or ginger.
Add vegetables except cilantro and reduce heat to simmer until vegetables are cooked but still firm.
Remove lemon stalk if used. Thin rounds can remain in soup.
Add 1/3 can coconut milk and taste the soup. Add more coconut milk if desired, up to one full can.
Be sure the soup does not boil after the addition of coconut milk.
Soup is thin and can be served as is or over rice or quinoa.