Tom Kha – Thai Shrimp Coconut Soup

Tom kha is one of my favorite soups!  It’s rich, creamy, salty, savory, tangy, and a bit spicy.  I’ve tried many many many times to make a batch that somewhat rivals that of one of my favorite local Thai restaurants to no avail.  But this time I think I finally nailed it.  It’s surprisingly easy and despite what I previously assumed to be the reason why it wasn’t turning out to be as good as Lulu’s, it doesn’t require a trip to the Asian market.  While the traditional version uses galangal, Thai basil, and lemongrass, I was able to create a more approachable version using ginger and lime juice.  This soup comes together quickly and is perfect for a night spent cozying up on the couch! And of course, it’s full of a variety of vegetables, with spaghetti squash instead of noodles or rice, which keeps it lower carb but no less filling!

It does require a few items probably not normally in your pantry, but not to worry!  They’re still pretty easy to find at your local grocery store!  They also add tons of flavor while keeping the ingredient list to a minimum.  So, what are these secret ingredients?  Thai red curry paste and fish sauce!  Both add intense flavor and really give the broth the most satisfying touch of tang and spice!

Additionally, if you utilize a fish sauce that doesn’t contain sugar, this soup is both paleo and whole30!  I used Kame brand because that’s what I was able to find at the store, but Red Boat makes a version without sugar.  While the fish sauce smells a bit funky, you absolutely cannot skip this ingredient!  It was the ingredient that I had been missing on my previous attempts and the flavor it adds is not replicable!  It adds saltiness and tanginess, along with umami (savory) flavor.  It’s made from anchovies, which, if you didn’t know is also the key ingredient in Caesar dressing!  Because of the fair amount of fish sauce used in this recipe, no additional salt is necessary.  And I even cut down on the sodium further by using a low sodium chicken broth.  I also highly recommend using fresh ginger and garlic.  I’m just not sure that dried or powdered versions would bring quite the flavor punch necessary to really make the broth for this soup sing!  And really, the broth is what it’s all about, so don’t skip out on it!

Alright, so besides the insanely delicious broth, I mentioned that this soup is full of vegetables and I wasn’t kidding!  Bell peppers, onion, green onion, chilis, and spaghetti squash are all swimming around in there, and shrimp adds a good bit of protein to help keep you full and satisfied!  For additional flavor, add some fresh cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.

tom kha veggies

 

tom kha soup

Tom Kha – Thai Shrimp Coconut Soup

Servings:  4          Time: ~ 45 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 serrano chilis (or Thai chilis if you can find them!), halved and thinly sliced, optional
  • 3 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 14.5oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 14.5oz can reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 rounded tsp red curry paste
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. ghee
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails off
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Halve spaghetti squash lengthwise, scrape out seeds, and rub cut side with a bit of olive oil.  Place cut side down on a foil lined baking pan.  Pierce skin with a fork several times.  Bake in oven 20-25 minutes until softened and strands scrape out easily.  *Don’t overcook as it will continue to cook a bit once added to soup.
  • While squash cooks, over medium heat in a large dutch oven, add ghee (or oil/butter of choice) and melt.  Add shrimp and cook about 2 minutes per side, until almost cooked through.
  • Add regular onion, chili, and green onion (reserve about 2 tbsp. green onion for garnish later, if desired) and saute a couple minutes until lightly softened.
  • Add ginger, garlic, and red curry paste and continue to saute, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, and juice of 2 limes (tip – gently roll the limes on the counter before slicing to release the juices) and bring to a simmer.
  • Add red bell pepper to soup.
  • Once squash is done and cool enough to handle, scrape out strands and add to soup.  Continue simmering for 5 minutes or so until everything is combined.
  • Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges
Nutrition Info:

315 total cal, 13 g fat, 23 g carb, 27 g protein

 


Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, both for work and for fun, and with the warmer weather and eating out constantly while traveling, basically all I’ve wanted to eat while home is salads!  Most restaurants don’t serve enough vegetables, in my opinion, so I always crave all the vegetables upon returning home!

This salad has been a repeat offender, in the best possible way, over the past week!  It’s full of fresh, crunchy vegetables, easy to prepare boiled chicken, and the most flavorful and delicious Thai peanut dressing.  The dressing is inspired by a Thai peanut sauce that I’ve put over swoodles (sweet potato noodles) in the past.  It’s also partly inspired by one of my favorite noodle dishes (called Rainbow Peanut Noodles) at a local Thai fusion restaurant.  P.S. if you’re in the Kansas City area, I highly recommend you check out Lulu’s Thai Noodle House!  You really can’t go wrong with much on their menu, but I especially love the Rainbow Peanut Noodles, the Drunken Noodles, Pad Se Eu, or of course Pad Thai.

Anyways, back to this SALAD 🙂

It’s super easy to prepare and really allows for various combinations of vegetables to be tossed in to your liking!  I made this a second time using a slightly different mix of vegetables than the first based on what I had on hand and what I could easily find at the store, so like I said, if any of the vegetables listed below don’t appeal to you, feel free to mix it up!  Any vegetables found in Asian dishes could be tried with this – sugar snap or snow peas, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, even canned water chestnut!

The dressing is really the star here, and putting it all in a blender to mix makes it super easy.  I used fresh ginger and garlic but this could easily be made with dried or powdered garlic and ginger as well.  You’ll just need to reduce the amounts to probably around 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. to be equivalent to the amounts of fresh used in this recipe.  Since it’s a smaller amount, I’d recommend using a personal size blender or small food processor.  I’ve used Ninja brand blenders for several years with success.  And in my opinion, you really can’t beat the price.  Either of these models would work well for this recipe – blender, personal blender, and food processor combo or for less money, 2 sizes of personal blender cups combo.  Also, the heat level from the crushed red pepper can be modified or removed all together depending on your liking.

This makes quite a large amount of salad, but since all the vegetables are pretty hearty, they can hold up well to being saved for leftovers, even with the dressing on!  Below is a picture of it being mixed up in the biggest bowl I own :).

Thai Chicken Salad Bowl

This salad can easily be made Whole30 or Paleo as well if you follow those food plans.

So, give this recipe a shot and let me know how it goes!  I’d love to hear what kind of delicious veggie combos you come up with!

Thai Chicken Salad Side Shot

Ingredients:

Servings:  6            Time:  30 minutes

Dressing:

  1.  1/4 C coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  2.  2 T natural, no sugar added peanut butter (or almond butter for Whole30 or Paleo)
  3. 2 T Rice Wine Vinegar
  4. 2 T Olive Oil
  5. 1 t Sesame Oil
  6. 1 large clove garlic, peeled (or approximately 1/4-1/2 t powdered)
  7. 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled (or approximately 1/4-1/2 t powdered)
  8. 1 dried date, softened in 1-2 T warm water for a few minutes (or 1 t sweetener of choice)
  9. 1/8 t crushed red pepper to taste
  10.  Salt and pepper to taste (use less salt or omit if using soy sauce)
  11. Warm water as needed to thin (use the leftover water from the softened date)

Salad:

  1. 1 14-16oz bag coleslaw mix
  2. 1 14-16oz bag shredded purple cabbage
  3. 1 14-16oz bag broccoli slaw
  4. 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  5. 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  6. 1 orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  7. 1/2 C slivered almonds
  8. 4 large chicken breasts, about 2-2.5 pounds, cooked and shredded
  9. Fresh cilantro and sesame seeds to top, optional

Instructions:

  1. Cook and shred chicken.  I use the method described in my Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.
  2. While chicken cooks, throw all ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of warm water as necessary to thin to typical dressing consistency.
  3. Chop bell pepper, radish, and green onion and mix with coleslaw, purple cabbage, and broccoli slaw in a large bowl.
  4. Dish up about 1/6 of the rainbow of vegetables mix, 1/6 of shredded chicken, and top with approximately 2 T of dressing, slivered almonds, cilantro and sesame seeds if desired.
  5. Enjoy!

Nutrition info:  383 tot cal, 14 g fat, 25 g carb, 42 g protein