Cooking the Menu

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Yes, it’s back.

This is the segment where I attempt to replicate, reproduce, make something similar to a dish that we’ve had out or on a take away menu, using the cookbooks in my shelf.

This week, I tackled Spirit House’s Coconut Soup.

This was our dish of the night when we ate at Spirit House the other week. (yes, there’s a post on its way). A luscious, creamy, silky smooth soup, rich with the taste of galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and a hint of chilli. Decadent and divine.

At Spirit House, it was served as a starter in a teapot and poured into small cups over thin slices of salmon.

Here at Chez Tracey, there’s no time for faffing about and styling- it’s all about getting the meal on the table. We served it as a main meal, ladled over bowls containing cooked rice noodles, shredded chicken and some shitake mushrooms I’d cooked in the broth.

Our version might look like something from the bottom of the Ganges, but it tasted amazing.

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I’d spent some time on Australia Day replenishing my home-made chicken stocks. I usually use a whole chook, taking the it out when cooked and stripping the meat off, before tossing the bones back in to finish the stock.

This gives me a few litres of chicken stock, plus some shredded chicken meat in the freezer for salads and sandwiches…or Spirit House Coconut Soup.

I used a Spirit House recipe from the first book- Spirit House- Thai Cooking. This has to be the single most used book in my shelf. Without exception.

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The recipe I used as my base was Tom Kha Gai- Chicken Galangal Soup. And, as luck would have it, it’s available here, for free, on the Spirit House website.

The quantities here will serve 4 as a generous starter, but we’re greedier than that and wanted it to be a main meal, so doubled the chicken stock and added a can of coconut cream.

Because I wanted it to look like the one we had the other week, I strained the soup after all the flavours had bubbled away and infused. I returned it to the pan and added the mushrooms at that point. If I hadn’t been using cooked chicken, I would have added that then too.

Although the ingredients list looks daunting, this is an easy soup to make and quick to put together. It’s one of those where you get a whole bang of flavour for a little bit of effort.

The verdict? A big “this is a keeper” all round.

As for me, it took me back to that little place on the beach at Phuket where I had this for lunch (unstrained) most days.

And on a rainy night in Sydney after a crappy day, a little imagined sunshine was a good thing.

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