Friday, November 10, 2006

Lemongrass-Coconut Noodle Soup


* 2 stalks lemongrass (see complete instructions below), OR 4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass
* 1 package Thai rice noodles
* 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, thinly sliced into matchstick-like pieces
* 4-6 cups vegetable broth or vegetarian "chicken" broth (6 cups serves 3-4 people)
* 1/2 package firm tofu, cubed, OR wheat gluten or soy chicken (or other meat substitute), cut into bite-size pieces
* 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets including stems
* 1-2 cups Chinese cabbage, chopped into bite-size pieces (bok choy, baby bok choy or su choy)
* 1-2 carrots, sliced
* 2-3 Tbsp. vegetarian fish sauce (OR substitute soy sauce)
* 2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
* 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
* roughly 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
* Optional: Thai or Vietnamese chilli sauce


1. For complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
2. First, place noodles in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the noodles to soak in the hot water while you prepare the soup.
3. Place broth in a soup pot along with lemongrass (include left-over stalk pieces), galangal or ginger, and tofu or soy/wheat gluten. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer while you chop up and add the vegetables (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the carrots first, then the broccoli and finally the cabbage. Stir and then allow to simmer 2 more minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, stirring until dissolved. Reduce heat to minimum.
6. Add the vegetarian fish sauce and/or soy sauce. If you prefer your soup spicy, add 1-2 tsp. chilli sauce (OR simply serve it on the side for those who like it).
7. Do a taste test, adding more fish or soy sauce if not salty enough. If you find the soup too salty (this depends on how salty your broth is), add 1 to 2 Tbsp. lime juice.
8. Check rice noodles to make sure they are cooked (if still a little hard, boil briefly). Drain the noodles and portion them out into bowls. If you have extra noodles left over, leave them in the colander and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
9. Pour several ladles of soup over each bowl of noodles. Sprinkle fresh basil over each bowl. Serve with chilli sauce on the side (if desired), plus more fresh basil, and enjoy this bowl of culinary comfort.


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