Thai chicken soup to feed the soul

Once in awhile I have an urge to cook something exotic instead of a favorite standby meal. This can be especially tricky when cooking for an 8-yr-old who is not interested in being adventurous as the dinner table. If the plate does not have pasta, pizza, tacos, pancake, egg, sausage, schnitzel, mashed potatoes, or escargot, he is skeptical about eating it. And I’m serious about the escargot. Little T devours cooked snails but will wrinkle his nose to a piece of chicken.

I had a hankering to make a Thai dish. I love Thai food, but rarely make Thai meals in my own kitchen as they often require unique ingredients. Having a small fridge, I don’t have the luxury of space to shelve one-of-a-kind ingredients. A few years ago, a lovely friend of mine made Hubby and me a yummy Thai soup as an appetizer, and I have on numerous occasions thought about the taste of that soup ever since. So I did a search on Epicurious for Thai soup (a gourmet recipe website that I recommend to anyone with a passion for food which you can find at and decided to give their Thai Chicken-Coconut Soup a try.

Hubby was away on travel, so being able to cook with mushrooms was a delight. I had to visit two grocery stores to find cellophane noodles (that’s when I miss a typical North American grocery store that carries everything – the challenge is just finding the isle) and since fresh spinach is hard to find here, I substituted arugula (which I do often, thanks to the advice of my teacher-chef Hubby). Thinking the soup would be a tough enough sell to Little T, I omitted the Thai peppers. The only unique ingredient was the fish sauce. I will just need to make an effort to use it in other Asian influenced meals (and welcome suggestions!).

Cooking a meal is my favourite time of the day. I like to shut the door, throw open the windows, and turn on some music. While I chop and prepare the ingredients, I can feel my heartbeat slow down and my muscles and mind relax. The aroma of the garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lemon juice and fish sauce simmering was intoxicating. But for me, the smell of garlic sautéing in a fry pan is instant love.

Having never used coconut milk, I thought I had mistakenly purchased a can of lard. But when I added it to the steaming broth, it quickly transformed into a silky substance that resembled Thai soup I have enjoyed in restaurants (with another set of very lovely friends). Surprisingly, the chicken cooked within the specified 3 minutes. But I let the entire soup simmer for another 10 minutes to give me time to tidy up and savour the new smell of my kitchen.

When presenting Little T with the soup, I did what would make purist parents gasp and cover the mouths. I agreed to let him watch TV while eating his supper. This is actually more for my benefit, as after happily preparing a meal then looking forward to sitting down to enjoy it, it is difficult to endure loud protests and negative feedback (before the critic has even tasted it). So, if watching TV provides enough distraction for the said critic to eat his soup without complaining, pass the remote.

The soup was simply fabulous. After my first spoonful I was immediately looking forward to another bowl for lunch the next day. I decided the combination of flavours stood on their own and didn’t need the heat of Thai peppers. But that’s just a personal preference as I don’t like my food with too much heat. After a gray, damp day outside this bowl of Thai chicken soup really fed my soul.

As for the snail lover, he ate his entire bowl with no complaints. Maybe next time I’ll serve him a bowl without the TV.

8 thoughts on “Thai chicken soup to feed the soul

  1. Great story Heather, and smart planning with the remote. Having any negative energy around when you are trying to eat is not a good thing:)
    I would suggest you make some pai thai with the fish sauce. I have a good recipe for carrot soup that uses coconut milk, and I just love it as well.
    I was totally there in your kitchen as you were making it, just wish I could have sat down to lunch with you to enjoy! Love, Gail


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