Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup (Tom Kha Thale)

Someone made this soup for a potluck and I just had to make it. I used shrimp but it's often made with chicken too (Tom Kha Kai). I reduced the coconut milk a little so it's lighter, as I am not a huge fan of overly creamy soups. Adapted recipe from Tyler Florence.
Lemongrass was a bit of hassle for me to find (my usual grocery "just" ran out) so I just bought extra and froze it, but it's needed to give the Thai lime flavor. In my recipe, I put what I actually used, but here are the substitutions for authentic Thai flavors.
- Galangal root = Ginger root
- Kaffir lime leaves = 5 lime zest (and bay leaves)
- Thai chilies = Sriracha sauce or another chili pepper
- Shallots = 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 red onion

Now that little basil garnish you see is all that really remains of Joe the basil from Trader Joe's. B calls me the crazy plant lady, since I love potted plants. Cut flowers make me sad since they die. Er...never mind that my potted plants die too...(hypothetically they have a chance at least!). Joe is a sweet basil; thai basil is purplish and is great for cooking since it's sturdier. Joe, indeed, is a delicate creature.

B also thinks it's weird I assign genders to my plants.

Anyways, Joe's the oldest basil I've ever had....almost 7 months now. Alas, he's shriveled up, but 2% of him still looks good and thus gets eaten. Poor Joe. He can't win.

3-4 cups chicken stock
5 small Thai chiles, halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 chunks
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves peeled and cut into large pieces
1/2 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms
4 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced and zested (or kaffir lime leaves)
2 cups shrimp
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup basil

Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat in a soup pot with chiles, garlic, ginger and lemongrass,  Lower the heat to medium-low; add coconut milk, mushrooms, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice and zest. Cover the pot and gently simmer to let the spices infuse the broth, about 30 minutes.

Uncover the pot and add shrimp, salt, pepper, and basil. Simmer until shrimp is cooked (pink), about 5-10 minutes.

Ladle the soup into a bowls (making sure to remove the lemongrass), and garnish with the basil.


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