Ginger and lemongrass and coconut… Oh my! And basil… and cilantro, and chili and lime…
The above blend of herbs and spices in this Thai-inspired soup make for a nice burst of light, creamy, warming, tangy and savory tones with a hint of sweetness and just the right amount of kick.
(Can you tell I watch the Food Network?)
February in New England is most definitely a soup month. The Italian in me always loves a nice bowl of classic tomato basil soup because it reminds me of my mom’s homemade sauce ( “gravy”), and I’ve also been on a lentil soup kick now for a long time.
If I’m being complacent, I admit I have the tendency to eat a certain meal or snack multiple times a week, loving it, until one day I just stop and then I won’t eat it again for like 6 months… Does that sound familiar? I often joke about it with my clients because so many can relate!
In efforts to switch things up, last month I tried some amazing Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut chicken) soup at Titaya’s Thai Cuisine while I was in Austin, Texas. I was fighting off the early stages of a cold and so I liked the idea of incorporating ginger and lemongrass, both of which have a lot of immune-boosting benefits. It really hit the spot and I left feeling nourished, re-vitalized and very inspired!
As you can see below, I got to enjoy my Tom Kha Gai out of a “fire bowl”—that was a first!
Unfortunately I didn’t have a fire bowl on-hand at my apartment. BUT: I will say that my version of the Tom Kha Gai came out SO good that I finished the “en-THAI-er” batch in just two days! (Yup, you know I’m all about those puns!)
My Thai soup was made with homemade bone broth, which I had in the fridge and needed to use. But you can make this soup with whatever kind of broth you like. I’m sure you can’t go wrong!
I personally like to incorporate homemade stocks, bone broth and/or Collagen Peptides regularly into my food routine, just because they have had such a tremendously positive impact on my digestive and immune system health. Literally it’s like night and day.
I still remember the years in my early 20s when I was relying on Prilosec, Tums, Zantac, Lactaid pills, Benadryl, Zyrtec, and more… to get me through every single day. Those drug companies must have loved me. And yes I am completely off all of that crap now, and have been for a while.
The strength and overall health of our intestinal cells is a critical component of recovering from “Leaky Gut” syndrome, which is more often than not an underlying culprit of digestive disturbances and autoimmune disorders of all kinds (1). That is where traditionally made broths and stocks come into play: they provide an ideal form of “bioavailable” (easily absorbed) fuel for our intestinal cells which have a turnover rate of about 48 hours. Meaning that our digestive tract rebuilds itself every two days using the nutrients in our food! So the idea is that over time, regular consumption of quality bone broths and stocks will support the production of stronger and healthier cells which make up our GI system.
But it’s not just as simple as drinking broth. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of different factors contributing to the state of health of our digestive system, which is intimately connected to our immune health. In order to reverse any digestive or immune-related health issues, those things need to be addressed on a cellular level using a safe, realistic and individualized approach (turns out we humans are like snowflakes, after all).
Disclaimer: Bone broth is not an “end all be all” cure to any health issue. Nor is any one single food, herb, beverage, pill etc. It’s our lifestyle as a whole and the collection of day-to-day choices and even our mental and emotional state of being that will help propel us towards the results we seek. And no positive health outcomes ever happen overnight!
But yes, bone broth has done wonders for me and countless others when incorporated as part of a balanced diet and natural lifestyle, utilizing the power of food.
Now, to the soup!
There are many ways to make this soup and you can feel free to add/swap veggies, use fresh lemongrass or change around the ratios of each ingredient. You will most likely need to make a special shopping trip for some of these ingredients too. But it is definitely worth it! 😉
- 5 cups broth of your choice (you might like my simple all-purpose chicken stock)
- 8 to 12-oz container of culinary coconut milk
- 1 container fresh arugula or spinach
- This is my secret ingredient… I add greens to almost everything! It’s not included in the traditional Thai version but it packs a nice extra micro-nutrient boost and some added texture. If you want to stick with a more authentic Thai style soup you can omit the greens.)
- 1 pint container of fresh sliced mushrooms (or other veggies of your choice)
- 2 inches peeled ginger, sliced into chunks (these are for steeping and flavor but not to be eaten)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (use half if you aren’t into spicy foods)
- Fresh lime slices (for extra tangy flavor)
- Fresh basil and/or cilantro (for garnish and added flavor)
- In a large pan, sauté mushrooms and coconut oil over the stovetop on low-medium heat, until mushrooms have just cooked through (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.
- In a large stockpot, while mushrooms are cooking, bring broth to a boil.
- Add coconut milk and reduce to a simmer.
- Add cooked mushrooms, ginger, lemongrass and chili. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Add arugula; stir and simmer for additional 5-7 minutes or until it has cooked through.
- Serve in soup bowls, adding a squeeze of fresh lime (or a drop of lime essential oil), and fresh herbs to your liking.
- Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. M., & Luo, X. M. (2017). Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, 598. Retrieved February 6, 2018 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/