Thai food has this amazing balance between salty, sweet, sour, and spicy! Most dishes need to tick each box to accomplish a rounded execution. To us, this umami quartet dances in our mouths and sings in our bellies. That intense, craveable spice; the funkiness from the fish sauce; and all the beautiful aromatics from the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime makes for an incredibly intoxicating mouthful that goes from small spoonfuls to slurping and chugging broth with your mouth to the bowl—this soup is a true love affair! In all, it comes together within minutes, and you’ll be finding yourself the hero of your next weeknight meal!
Serving: 4 bowls of soup (but…make extra, trust us!)
4 cups of water
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised with the back of your knife and cut in thirds*
1, 2-inch piece of galangal, sliced into medallions*
3 kaffir lime leaves, smooshed in your hands to release the oils*
3 tbs nam prik pao* (see picture of jar below)
4 tbs coconut milk
2-6 birds-eye chilis (depending on your spice-tolerance, we used 5!), beaten in a mortar and pestle (or sliced thinly if you don’t have)*
1 cup of button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
fish sauce, to taste (about 2 tbs)
lime juice, to taste (about 2 tbs)
sugar, to taste (about 1 tbs)
1/4 cup of cilantro (leaves and stems), coarsely chopped
**Note: All the ingredients starred can be found at either a local Thai grocer or Asian food market! Try and seek out these ingredients because they do make all the difference in the end!
Place the water in a medium stock pot with the lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring this mixture to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow for the aromatics to infuse into the water.
Add the nam prik pao and coconut milk and stir to combine. Add the chilis, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and shrimp. Cook for about 4 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp, we like the bigger U15s) until the shrimp are just cooked and no longer translucent.
Take the soup off the heat, and add the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar as the final “seasoning”. This is one of the most important steps! This is when it is time to solidify the balance of the dish. Is there enough salt? Add more fish sauce! Is there enough acidity or freshness? Add more lime juice! Is there enough sweet to offset and balance the salty, sour, and spicy? Add more sugar! A lot of this comes with practice and knowing your palate. If something seems off, you’ll know! Trust what YOU like! As long as you know how to achieve the flavor you want by following these simple guidelines—it will always come out wonderfully!
Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve with rice, noodles, or just a large bowl all by itself! Next time you’re feeling under the weather, you’ll be begging for this instead of the old chicken noodle soup! Thai penicillin!