Rainy day. Me. Pajamas. This soup.
This soup is my motivation for coming out from the covers. Every spirit-renewing, noodle-slurping bowl promises satisfaction + goodness.
It brings together a wonderfully fragrant palette of spices that add depth, mystery and flavor to this otherwise simple dish. Its broth infuses the exotic flavors of ginger, Thai red curry, hot Thai peppers* and aromatic lemongrass into a fragrant profile. This blend of this Asian-Spiced Chicken & Vegetable Soup is its crowning feature will transport your taste buds straight to the Far East.
Start by simmering the lemongrass and ginger in the stock over medium-high heat until fragrant. Whisk in the red curry paste and then…hold your nose over the pot and inhale. Deeply. Oooooh, yes!
I recommend throwing in a Thai chile (prik) for heat…but allow me to share a secret with you. Lean closer…closer…
*There is no.such.thing. as a Thai prik.
Whaaat? No Thai priks?
But Naked Epicurean, surely you jest! I have been to Thailand, and I have eaten my fill of Thai priks. I have eaten them fried, dried, pickled and in pastes in my soups, curries, salads and dips. You know not of what you speak!
Yes, I understand. It is a heated debate.
So, about those priks…
According to this exposé in TIME Magazine, the peppery heat of dishes in pre-Columbian times came from black pepper. The introduction of the chile “revolutionized the Thai kitchen.” South America chiles were introduced to Japan via European traders, and the popularity of their heat, shall we say, spread like fire. They eventually found themselves in many Asian cooking pots, including those of Tibet and Indonesia.
So… what we refer to as Thai chiles is a bit of a misnomer. Thai chiles actually hail from South America.
What I guess I should say is priks exist but are not indigenous to the Asia.
There are several types of “Thai” chiles, each bringing its own repertoire of heat to cuisine. My Thai is a little rusty, but here is a handy prik cheat sheet:
- Prik Chee Fah is likely the pepper most of us refer to when we speak of Thai chiles.
- Prik Ki Nu Suan The translation of it name means “mouse dropping.” Not for its taste, mind you–for its size. It is one of the spicier of the chiles.
- Prik Ban Chang–can be red or green and it is known for its mildness.
- Prik Yuak–is light green in color and is more sweet than spicy
- Prik Mun–is red or dark green and are typically found bottled in vinegar and served as a condiment.
- Prik Noom–is light green but has more heat. It makes a delicious smoky paste.
- Prik Chee Fah–is red or green or both and is delicious as a fresh condiment
- Prik Lueng–this beautiful orange pepper is spicy and sometimes found in salads
- Prik Jinda–this very spicy pepper is red or green. It will clear your sinuses, for sure.
- Prik Kariang or Kaleang is the spiciest chili used in Thai cuisine and comes in a beautiful array of colors, from pale chartreuse to day-glo red-orange and purple.
But on with the recipe…where were we?
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a spritz of lime and other condiments. Pass around sriracha.
I like to pair spicy Asian dishes with an aromatic Gewurztraminer or cold bottle of Singha. And of course, Champagne is always an option.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it. Tag #naked epicurean on Instagram and we can celebrate together!
Spicy Asian Chicken and Vegetable Soup (for 6–ish)
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 stalks lemongrass, tender midsection only, roughly chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 thinly sliced hot peppers
- 1 8-ounce package of rice noodles
- 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
cilantro leaves, coarsely torn
scallions, if desired
1. In a large pot, simmer the stock, lemongrass, garlic and ginger over medium-high heat until the stock is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Strain to remove ginger and lemongrass.
2. Add soy sauce and stir. Whisk the curry paste into the broth and return to a simmer over medium-high heat.
3. Add the carrots and peppers; cook about 3 minutes.
4. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 5 minutes.
5. Load up the bowls with chicken and noodles.
6. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and top with the bean sprouts, cilantro and chiles. Squeeze in lime and pass the sriracha.