I’m not sure if this officially qualifies as Tom Kha, but it’s a pretty refreshing soup I like to make that tastes vaguely like the real thing. It’s a quick & dirty take on the classic Thai coconut soup. You could do this with seafood or chicken, but I like the bright flavors of this vegetarian version. So here’s what to do:
Chop up some onions, red peppers and mushrooms.
Saute the veggies and set aside. Since this is “quick”, we’re going to use one of my favorite shortcuts: Tom Yum soup paste. I think this is pretty widely available at Asian supermarkets. It’s got all the good stuff already (galanga, lemongrass, etc.), so it’s also a lot cheaper in the long run. Keeps forever, too.
Make a broth from the paste, then add a can of coconut milk. Drop in 6 – 10 (frozen) lime leaves–this really makes a difference in taste, and they should be available in the frozen section at your local Asian supermarket. While you’re at it, squeeze some fresh limes and add the juice to taste.
Let your broth simmer away until you’re happy with it, then at the very end, add the vegetables back in along with some handfuls of fresh spinach.
Pour the broth over your (cooked) rice noodles, add some chopped fresh cilantro and enjoy!
*This stuff will clear you right up if you’ve got a mid-winter cold…