Thai Basil Chicken Soup
Jeff had never cooked any Thai recipes before he started in on this Basil Chicken Soup, so it was really a learning experience for him. He noticed that in more western or American recipes, cooks will lean toward making a chicken stock or a chicken broth with a slow addition of other ingredients, while in this recipe and in many other Thai dishes, most of the ingredients are thrown in at once.
This recipe calls for coriander roots, which are the roots of the cilantro plant. These are sometimes hard to find in supermarkets in the United States, so you can substitute them for the stems of the cilantro plant. For every root that the recipe calls for, you can use 2 or 3 stems for the same flavor effect.
We used our very own Thai Bird Chiles for this recipe. These are dried chiles, but you do not have to rehydrate them because they will rehydrate themselves as they cook in the soup. Typically, this process takes about 20 minutes or so, and this is about how long they will cook for in the soup, too. These chiles give the soup a nice heat, though it does still have some sweetness to it.
Since this is a recipe with “basil” in the title, we would be remiss if we did not mention how to get the most basil flavor in your soup. We used a fresh basil which is not of the Thai basil variety, but the regular basil variety that you can purchase at the grocery store. Jeff prefers the chiffonade method, where you crumple up the basil leaves in your hands and then chop them up before distributing them over the soup. This gives not only a beautiful coloring to the soup, but also a good flavor too. By crushing and then cutting the leaves, he released the essential oils from the plant and they were then able to spread throughout the soup. The presentation is also nicer with the chopped leaves than with whole leaves. Something about the greens all over the soup looks much nicer than chunky greens in random spots floating all over the place. Jeff used fresh basil for this effect.
This soup has all the usual expected flavors of Thai cuisine, so if you have been curious about giving it a try, this soup may be the right place for you to start!
- 1 lb chicken thighs with bone, skin removed
- 6 pieces Crystallized Ginger
- 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, sliced
- 8 Makrut Lime Leaves, whole
- 6 Thai Bird Chiles Chiles, whole
- 2 or 3 coriander roots or 6-9 cilantro plant stems
- 8-9 cups water
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 cups fresh basil, cut or torn
- 4 tsp Black Sesame Seeds
- In a large soup pot, add water, chicken, Crystallized Ginger, lemongrass, Makrut Lime Leaves, Birds Eye Chiles and Coriander roots (cilantro stems).
- Cook for 20 minutes.
- Strain the soup through a mesh sieve into a large bowl to remove solids.
- Remove chicken thighs, cool to touch and remove meat from the bones.
- Add the chicken and soup back to the soup pot.
- Add fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar.
- Cook for another 5-8 minutes.
- Add basil and sesame seeds, serve hot.