Saturday, January 1, 2011

Coconut Lemongrass Soup

Last week I caught an episode of Paula Deen on the Food Network and she was cooking Thai food. Being a lover of all types of Asian cuisine, I paid close attention and decided I'd give her lemongrass coconut soup a try. The big problem I have with cooking exotic dishes is that I usually can't get the ingredients locally and have to improvise. My market didn't have fresh lemongrass or Kaffir lime leaves, but I figured lime zest could replace the 4 Kaffir leaves and this adorable little squeeze bottle I discovered in the produce department could substitute for the one stalk of lemongrass.

I was right and I can't wait to share my new discovery. This little tube of loveliness is from Gourmet Garden and is called Lemon Grass Herb Blend. There's no ingredient label so I imagine it's just chopped lemongrass. Why they call it an herb blend, I do not know. The package boasts organic, no added flavors or colorings, and a long shelf life. How convenient is that? And after using it in my recipe, I'm hooked. It's just like fresh and will be a staple in my kitchen from now on. Getting back to the soup... I ended up re-mixing Paula's recipe by also cutting back on the amount of chiles and fish sauce. Plus she used sliced chicken. I omitted the bird and added more vegetables. And I love brown rice and thought that was a natural. So thanks Paula. You've inspired me once again.
Coconut Lemongrass Vegetable Soup
Inspired by Paula Deen
2 cans (14.5 oz each) fat free chicken broth
1 T Gourmet Garden Lemon Grass Herb Blend
Zest of one lime
1 T fresh ginger grated
1 can (14 oz) straw mushrooms drained and rinsed
1 can (14 oz) sliced baby corn drained and rinsed
2 small Thai or Serrano chiles
3 T fish sauce
2 T Splenda No Calorie Sweetener
1/2 can light coconut milk (about 6 oz)
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 oz fresh snow peas
2 cups cooked brown rice
In soup pot combine chicken broth, lemongrass, lime zest and ginger and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the infused broth, discard the aromatics and return broth to pot. Add mushrooms, corn, chiles, fish sauce, Splenda, coconut milk and lime juice and simmer another 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and add snow peas and cook another 3 minutes. Ladle into serving bowls, add rice and top with cilantro.

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