Several years ago, a friend of ours, Virginia, invited us over for dinner. She was serving a Vietnamese soup, she called Tom Kai. It was such a different taste, I had to know what was in it. She shared the ingredients and I was hooked, although Craig didn’t make a big deal out of it, so I thought he didn’t like it, and didn’t write the recipe down. Well, that was just another cooking mistake I have made over the years….When we got home, all he could talk about was how great that soup was. So using that new thing called the internet (I really don’t think it’ll last!), I looked up Tom Kai Soup…and WOW there were pages and pages of different versions of this soup. So after spending a few hours looking on something close, I decided to contact Virgie and get her recipe. So between a few of the recipes I found online, and Virgie’s I came up with the perfect, for me, Vietnamese soup.
Now I also mentioned that it has a different taste then items we are used to cooking. That being said, typically we cook with garlic, basil, rosemary, and other Mediterranean spices, and flavors. This soup is intense with lime, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass amongst other flavors. Not your typical Chicken noodle soup!
[Please note I forgot to take pictures, so I will add pictures when I make it again.]
Tom Kai Soup
2 large Chicken Breast, thinly sliced (you can use thighs if you prefer)
4 Limes peel grated (or use 5-6 Kaffir Lime leaves, if you can find)
Juice of the 4 limes
Ginger, peeled 5-6 half dollar size slices
2 sticks Lemongrass
1 Large can, or box Chicken broth
6 small potatoes (I use Yukon gold), quartered
1 Tbsp Fish sauce
2 Tbsp Sesame oil (plus a little olive or other oil, to extend)
½ tsp Hot Chili oil, additional for serving
1 can Coconut milk
Dash Turmeric, for color
Zest/grate green off lime into a larger bowl.
Slice Chicken into thin pieces. The easiest way to do this is to place chicken into the freezer for at least an hour, but no more than 3 hours. Take out and slice. This will produce a thinner and more consistent slice of chicken. You can use breasts, things or a combination of your preference. Place sliced chicken in bowl and toss to coat with the lime zest. Juice the lime on top of the chicken, and allow to rest for about an hour. (if you don’t have the time…..its ok, this step just tenderizes the chicken)
Peel and slice the ginger.
Peel off any brown or dry layers of lemongrass. Slice into 1-2 inch sticks. Using the side of your knife, smash the lemongrass to release the flavor of the grass. (For this step, I use a mesh basket, so I can remove the ginger and lemongrass. I didn’t used to do this, until a guest got a slice of ginger, which wasn’t very appealing.)
Heat sesame oil in a large pot. Carefully slide chicken, zest and juice into pot and sauté, until chicken in cooked, lime juice and natural juice are evaporated. About 10 minutes.
Add chicken broth, potatoes, ginger and lemongrass, and bring to a boil, reduce to low simmer. Add in fish sauce, coconut milk, turmeric, sugar and hot chili oil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the Noki mushrooms and allow to heat up.
Serve in bowl with crusty bread, and top with hot chili oil, depending on how hot you like.