Published January 1, 2007.
Authentic Thai-style soup gains complex flavor in minutes via a handful of exotic ingredients. Could supermarket substitutes deliver comparable results?
Thai chicken soup's complex flavor is largely derived from such exotica as galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, and
bird's eye chiles—ingredients most people would be hard-pressed to find at the market.
We wanted a plausibly authentic version of Thai chicken soup that could be prepared with more readily available (i.e.
We started by making a classic version of the soup, then substituting one ingredient at a time. We developed an
acceptably rich and definitely chicken-flavored broth by using equal parts chicken broth and coconut milk (adding the
coconut milk in two stages: at the beginning and just before serving). We couldn't find an appropriate substitute for
lemon grass, but it proved to be easy enough to find. Our most exciting find was a "magic bullet" substitution: jarred red
curry paste includes all the exotic ingredients we were missing. Just adding a dollop at the very end of cooking and
whisking it with pungent fish sauce and tart lime juice allowed all the classic flavors to come through loud and clear.list of recipes