spicy lemongrass soup.

We try to buy fresh, organic fruits and vegetables from a local distributor as frequently as possible. This week, Fruit of the Vine Organics had a great basket with lemongrass and bok choy. A few months ago, we were in Austin, TX, for my bachelorette party and I had the most amazing Vietnamese soup. I think I could eat that soup every.single.day. I dreamed about making this spicy lemongrass soup all day. No joke. It really wasn't the same as Vietnamese soup, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think the husband approved.

After picking up my basket, I got to work on the recipe for soup provided in the weekly newsletter. Shortly afterward, I went completely off-course and just made something up. This was mainly because I injured myself while making the paste so Carson went to get us take out and I spent some time feeling sorry for myself. I didn't actually finish the soup until the next evening, when I had recovered my courage to use my immersion blender as well as my pride. A description of said injury makes it sound much worse than it really was, so I'll leave it to your imagination.

Paste Ingredients:
1/3 cup chopped ginger
3 garlic clover
3 T water {I just guesstimated this amount using the filtered water from my fridge}
2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, using only the fleshy inside {I accidentally used some of the outer leaves; they are edible, but will not grind up smoothly}
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Soup Ingredients:

Shitake mushrooms, caps removed (about 2 cups)
1 large red pepper, sliced
1/2 large white onion (or 1 small white onion; I would have used a red onion, but I didn't have one), sliced
2 heads of baby bok choy, thinly sliced
1 cup of spinach
1/2 cup of cilantro
A pinch (or two or three) of crushed red pepper flakes {I like my food spicy - as in, make your face sweat spicy - so you might want to skip the second/third pinch}
3 chicken breasts (the number I had on hand), thinly sliced
Fresh jalapeno slices {optional}
12 cups chicken broth
1 cup water

To make the paste: Combine all ingredients and pour into food processor and blend into a paste (I do not recommend using your immersion blender, see above).

I then put the paste into 8 cups of organic chicken broth. I added a few stalks of lemongrass and simmered for about 30 minutes. Our delicious takeout arrived, I called it a day with the injury-inducing cooking, and placed the broth-soup into the fridge for the night. I have no idea whether this had any effect on the taste. I doubt it.

The next night I basically tossed in whatever veggies I had on hand.

I tossed in another 4 cups of organic chicken broth, 1 cup of water and about 2 tablespoons of coconut cream. [Stick a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight and the cream will rise to the top. We frequently use this in recipes which call for heavy whipping cream.] Arguably, I used way too much chicken broth, but I really love broth so it seemed rational to me. This recipe will work just as well without the extra 4 cups, but when I make soup I always plan to freeze some of it for later, so the extra broth was worth it.

I added the mushrooms and onions in first, since they take a bit longer to cook. After about 5 minutes, I tossed in the cilantro, spinach, red pepper, and bok choy. Then I put the soup on simmer and went for a walk {optional} ... when I got back, I raised the heat on the soup to med-high so the broth was almost boiling, and put in the chicken. I gave it about 5 minutes before turning it back down to simmer. Due to my heavy hand with the crushed red pepper, the soup was a bit too spicy, so I added another spoonful of coconut milk to my bowl.

I always like to save the parts of vegetables we don't eat (i.e., mushroom caps, pepper stems, kale stems, etc.) for future homemade vegetable broth. We discovered these BPA free baggies over the weekend... they're super convenient and save me from wrapping my food in paper towels before putting them in plastic.

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