I thought about calling this soup "Bastardized Vegan Tom Kha Gai", but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It was way, way too delicious for mockery.
Did I want kaffir lime leaves and galangal and serrano chilies in this soup? Of course I did. Do we have any of these things in Alaska? Sure, probably. Do we have them in Wasilla, Alaska? No. This is the home of Sarah Palin after all. I called both grocery stores. To the credit of Carrs, they did tell me that they had lemon leaves, however, when I got to there the last package was gone. Also, a different produce man than the one I had talked to one the phone told me that they actually were lime leaves, not lemon leaves. So, who knows what the heck was going on really...
M point is, if you live in a rural and/or uncultured (a joke...kind of) place such as Wasilla, Alaska then this is the soup for you. Or, if you don't want to make a special trip to the Asian market, you should be able to find all of the following ingredients at your regular grocery store.
To improvise without these classic Tom Kha Gai ingredients, I added lime juice in place of the kaffir lime leaves, used ginger instead of galangal (I'm sorry but drastic times call for drastic measures) and I used fresh ground chili paste in place of the serrano chilies. So there you have it. An unbelievably creamy, Thai inspired coconut soup with tofu and mushrooms that is just as tasty as the vegnaized classic!
Thai Coconut Soup
Inspired by Cooking and Me
- 2 14 oz. blocks of silken tofu, pressed and diced
- 4 lemongrass stalks, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and chunked
- 8 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
- 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced (or whatever mushrooms you like)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground chili paste
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 2 15 oz. cans of canned full-fat coconut milk (not lite!)
- 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
To start, press the tofu blocks. To do this easily, just wrap each block in two layered paper towels, then place within a doubled-over dish towel and place a cutting board or something similar on top. Then place something heavy on top of that. I used a box of watercolor painting supplies. Allow the tofu to press until ready to use.
To prepare the lemongrass, cut off the top and bottom two inches of the stalks until the middle portion is about about the length of your hand. Now chop the stalks into about 1/2-1 inch pieces. You want them long enough so you won't accidentally eat them. They are very woody. You don't want to eat them, trust me.
Bring the vegetable stock in a large soup pot to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, peel (I use the edge of a spoon) and chop the ginger into big enough pieces that you won't accidentally eat it. Big hunks of ginger (uncrystallized) are just not that appetizing. Peel and slice the shallots thinly. Slice the mushrooms if needed.
Add the lemongrass, ginger, shallots, chili paste, and brown sugar to the broth and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile dice the tofu into bite sized pieces. Add in the mushrooms, tofu, soy sauce and coconut milk to the broth and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat or until the mushrooms become tender. Careful not to allow it boil, sometimes that can curdle the coconut milk. Once done cooking, remove from heat and stir in the lime juice.
Serve hot and topped with fresh cilantro. Careful not to eat the lemongrass and ginger chunks at the bottom of the bowl!
This soup is perfect for a chilly Autumn night in! And for fun, what am I listening to? Bright Eyes – Shell Games