I'm terrified of fish sauce. It's probably harmless and makes stuff taste great, but it smells awful and I can't bring myself to buy it. Part of this is due to my guilty conscience and high maintenance imagination, because once upon a time when a certain couple got married "someone" put fish sauce in their air filter (I swear it wasn't me, but I'm definitely close to the perpetrator). *cough* I can almost smell it now. (sorry guys)
Lots of recipes call for fish sauce, and I never ever put it in. Thought I'd confess that right away. We'll just call this type of cooking "Asian Fusion".
This dish started out as Tom Ka Gai soup, then morphed with this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. (Yes, I know....remember Fusion).
My 10 yr old sister calls it TBSE (the best soup ever), but she's a full fledged tween and prone to dramatics, so we'll call it Chicken Coconut Soup w/ Noodles.
Yum. Lets get started.
Chicken, tofu, beef, shrimp...it all works. If you were my brother you'd be adding squid to the pan. Trust me when I say though, if you want normal people to eat this... use chicken. I brown it in a little olive oil.
While the chicken is searing on both sides, thinly slice an onion (and I do mean thinly. Big chunks of onion are not welcome in this soup).
Add the onion to the pot with the chicken. Stir so the onions get coated in a little oil. Turn the heat down and let the onions cook. Meanwhile...
Slice a couple of carrots and add them to the pot. These started out Julienne, but by the time I took the picture they were almost entirely back to normal sliced carrots. Silly magic knife.
Add the coconut milk and chicken broth.
Now it's time for the seasonings. If you don't have a Thai seasoning blend, add a couple of dashes of onion powder, garlic powder, curry and ginger. We like things spicy around here, so Thai chili paste is a must in this soup for us. Stick a lid on the soup, keep it at a simmer, and...
Go soak your noodles. You don't want to cook rice noodles, just soften them for 15 min or so before you use them. I stick mine in a tupperware and pour piping hot water over the noodles until they're covered.
Fish the chicken out with a fork, dice it, and add it back. It should be cooked through by now, but if it's not, don't worry, it has a bit more time to finish.
Peek at the soup while you're there putting the chicken in. Give it a stir. Add the lime and sugar. Taste and adjust...always taste and adjust. This is the magic part of the soup, a dance between the saltiness of the soy sauce, the tartness of the lime and the sweetness of the sugar. It's a beautiful thing.
Add your perfectly softened noodles to the soup, they should be ready now. While the noodles are soaking up the flavor of the soup and finishing cooking, dice up your fresh tomato and cilantro. You add these last so they still taste fresh and don't turn to mush.
Try to resist eating it straight out of the pot. This is one of those dishes that even people who don't like Asian food like...as long as you don't tell them it's Asian food. I would resist mentioning the coconut as well. For some reason the word "coconut" conjures up images of flaky bits of white stuff on cupcakes or macaroons and that just isn't cool. Trust me when I say this soup will make a coconut lover out of anyone. I promise there are no flaky white bits or weird flavors.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with extra lime and cilantro on the side if you wish. I for one never make it that far. My bowl is drained and refilled faster than you can slurp a noodle. Ahh...noodles... soup. Swoon.
Coconut Lime Chicken Soup
1 chicken breast
1 15-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 small lime -squeezed (or half of a large one)
2 medium carrots, thinly-sliced diagonally
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Thai seasoning blend (or a blend of garlic, onion, curry and ginger)
8 oz rice noodles (regular noodles of any kind work too)
1 diced tomato (optional)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, (half for soup, other half optional for serving)
Lime wedges optional for serving
1. In large saucepan sear chicken breast in a little olive oil. Add onions, carrots, coconut milk, broth, lime juice, soy sauce, and Thai seasoning.
3. Bring to reduce heat and simmer, covered, 8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.
4. Add lime juice and sugar. Adjust flavors as needed.
5. Add softened rice noodles (or cooked pasta), cook for five minutes.
6. Stir in fresh cilantro and
5.To serve, sprinkle bowls of soup with additional cilantro. Pass lime wedges.