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I first tried this spicy Thai chicken soup at a outdoor festival last summer. It was such a delicious combination of creamy and spicy, I wanted to try to make it at home. I looked at a lot of versions online to see what challenges and pitfalls there might be.
Everyone agrees that galangal, a Southeast Asian relative to ginger, is required for authentic Tom Kha. The galangal is simmered with lemongrass, spicy Thai chilies and kaffir lime to richly flavor chicken stock. The broth is added to coconut milk with chicken and mushrooms for a hearty meal.
I used two rotisserie chickens from Costco for both the meat and the broth, with some set aside for future meals. Next time, I will try adding in the aromatic flavors while I am reducing the stock to avoid having to strain twice.
All the exotic ingredients should be available at an Asian food market or Whole Foods. They keep well in the freezer so plan accordingly. I saved half to make the next batch of soup.
*If you cannot find galangal, you can substitute ginger but the flavor will not be the same.
**Use fish sauce sparingly as the flavor can be strong to unfamiliar palates. My original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of fish sauce.
***Thai chilies are much hotter than jalapeños so use caution when chopping and measuring. Jalapeños or other spicy green chiles can be substituted, if necessary.
This is a hearty soup but can also be served with rice or noodles. It reheats well, if there is any left.