Tom Kha Gai (Spicy chicken and coconut soup)

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Tom Kha Gai

ingredients
3 cups chicken broth
8 large slices unpeeled Siamese ginger (galanga or kha) or regular ginger
1 large stalk lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
12 (6 pairs) fresh Kaffir lime leaves (bai magroot)
2 cans (14 ounces each) unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
4-6 tablespoons chili paste in soybean oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
Sliced chilies, if desired
Sprigs of cilantro
Sliced green onions

directions
Put the broth, ginger, and lemon grass in a soup pot. Tear up Kaffir lime leaves and add to the pot. Gradually bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute, stir in coconut milk, and return to a boil. Stir in the chicken and return to a boil. Stir in the chili paste, lemon juice, sugar, and fish sauce. Stir until the chili paste and sugar are dissolved and blended. Add the mushrooms and simmer just until tender, about 1 minute. Ladle the soup into a soup tureen, or individual serving bowls. Sprinkle sliced chilies, a couple sprigs of cilantro, and green onion over each serving. The ginger slices, lemon grass, and Kaffir leaves are only for flavor and should not be eaten.

Serves 4 to 6.

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