Aromatherapy in a Bowl

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has responded to my plea for recipe testers! That being said, please be patient with me–I have this horrendous cold that I can’t seem to shake off. Concentrating with a fuzzy brain hasn’t been easy the last few days so I’m busy playing catch up. I did find some relief though … in a comforting bowl of Cambodian herb-scented chicken soup.

Both my hubby, hungry_hobbit, and I have been under the weather–he with bronchitis–so I decided to make this aromatic soup I learned from Phiroum (remember her from the boning chicken episode?). This Southeast Asian version has all the healing qualities of mama’s chicken noodle soup and I guarantee it’ll chase the blues away on a chilly winter day!

Cambodian Herb-Scented Chicken Soup (S’ngao Chruok Moan)

Just about every ingredient from sawtooth herb to lemongrass gives this refreshing soup its sprightly flavor and delightful fragrance. If you prefer, you can use boneless chicken meat but the bones give the stock better flavor. I also advise against using breast meat as it gets dry after boiling. Try tilapia or salmon fillets instead of chicken.

Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

6 cups water
1 tablespoon rice
4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds)
2 sawtooth herb leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 1/8-inch slice galangal
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, smashed and cut into fourths on the diagonal*
8 oz mushrooms, quartered (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
4 kaffir lime leaves**

1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup minced sawtooth herbs
1/4 cup green onions, cut into ‘O’s
1/4 cup minced Thai basil
2 limes, cut into wedges

In a 4-quart pot, bring water and rice to a boil over high heat. Add chicken, sawtooth herbs, spring onion, galangal and lemongrass. Bring to a boil again then simmer, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Take out chicken, discard bones and cut meat into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to pot and add mushrooms. Add fish sauce, salt, and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer another 3 to 4 minutes. Soup is ready when mushrooms are done.

Fish out the large herbs and ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with herbs and lime and serve with dipping sauce (below).

*Smashing lemongrass releases its flavor. Instead of a cleaver, use a meat tenderizer to smash it.
**Crumple kaffir lime leaves in your hand just before adding to the soup to release its essential oils and flavor.
Dipping sauce (Tik Chror Louk)

Juice from 1/2 large lime (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon water
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Thai chili peppers, chopped into rounds
1 garlic clove, minced
4 Thai basil leaves, minced

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well.


7 thoughts on “Aromatherapy in a Bowl

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