This is my favorite soup. It is especially wonderful with the traditional Thai spicing of kaffir lime leaves and galanga. You can find these in most Asian Markets (can be found in the Asian market on Mary St next to Peets and across from Whole Foods in San Rafael). Substitutions for these are noted below; lemongrass can found in Safeway. I keep packets in the freezer of these 3 spices mixed with the garlic which allows me to get this on the dinner table as a meal with kale on the side in 15 or 20 minutes.
I usually included minced jalapeño pepper and red bell pepper, but as nightshades are not Paleo, I’ve omitted these. If you know you are not sensitive to nightshades, they add fantastic kick and color respectively. If in doubt about nightshades, stick with black pepper as that is in the family Piperaceae as opposed to bell pepper, jalapeño, cayenne, et al which are in the Capsicum family and are nightshades.
In case you’ve wondered, the reason these nightshades and others including tomato, white potatoes, and eggplant are avoided in the Paleo diet is because of the potential inflammatory response of the body to lectins which, in sensitive individuals, can provoke an immune system response similar to that toward the WGA lectin in wheat/gluten in folks who are gluten-sensitive or celiac.
Basically, know yourself, listen to how your body responds to certain foods even if they are Paleo approved. This soup is awesome with or without the nightshades!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic (I use 4 cubes of TJs frozen garlic)
- 1/4 cup scallions, fine slice
- 1 stalk lemon grass minced (if minced, stays in soup and is eaten; alternately – to make things easy – cut into 2” lengths and remove before serving)
- 1 inch piece of galanga, fresh or dried (fabulous, delicious Thai root spice but if you can’t find it, ginger can be substituted)
- 4 kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 3 cups water
- 1 to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 to 2 tablespoons arrowroot, depending on amount of chicken used
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 can straw mushrooms
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (make sure it’s wheat free)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. After oil is heated, add garlic, scallions, lemon grass, galanga, and lime leaves. (If substituting lime zest, save this until later below.) Heat and occasionally stir for 2 minutes.
Add water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, slice chicken into bit-sized slices or cubes and toss with arrowroot to lightly coat.
Add chicken to soup and cook for 4 minutes.
Add coconut milk, pepper, mushrooms, fish sauce lime juice and lime zest if making this substitution. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in cilantro and serve.