Everyone has that drinkable “cure all” in the back of their mind that they subconsciously reach to whenever they can feel the grip of sickness beginning to take hold. It’s always some kind of elixir that warms you up and rejuvenates you, making you more aware of your senses and rousing you from your slump. While we certainly don’t wait to be ill to make this recipe, it’s the first thing we reach for when we start to feel under the weather. This light and complex broth is crammed with Southeast Asian aromatics and Thai chiles that blast away any feelings of sluggishness or apathy, leaving your mind—and sinuses—a little clearer than they were a moment before. We can’t help but grin with every time we take a sip.
This recipe isn’t new, but the presentation and ratios might be. Tom kha gai is a soup that most people know about, but whenever we crave it we don’t necessarily want all the toppings and noodles it sometimes comes with; we just want that broth. We meditated on that preference, and the more we thought about it the more we realized that the preparation was less like other soups where you need to cook everything you’re adding into it completely. Since you discard most of your flavorings at the end, it’s really just an infusion. It’s more like, well, tea. —Savory Love
scant 5 cups
good chicken broth, preferably homemade
lemongrass stalks, very roughly chopped, white and tender green parts only
galangal (or ginger), 2 inches in size, very roughly chopped
shrimp shells (optional, but highly recommended)
palm sugar simple syrup
kaffir lime leaves
cilantro leaves, roughly chopped and packed
In a saucepan on high heat, add the chicken broth, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp shells (if you’re using them), coconut milk, fish sauce, and palm sugar simple syrup. Bring to a boil, then bring the heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the lid and turn the heat off. Add the lime leaves, cilantro, and thai chiles, then put the cover back on. Let stand for 4 minutes.
Strain the broth and discard all the aromatics. Serve in teacups, bowls, or just leave it in the sauce pan and use a bendy straw.