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Cambodian Lemon Grass Soup

In the Stock Pot:
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (up to 3)
4 c Water
1 Stalks of lemon grass (pre-diced or dried lemongrass OK, add 1/2 - 1 cup) (up to 2)
2 ts Fish sauce
1/2 Handful of jasmine rice (raw, uncooked)
3 Cloves of garlic (more if possible, we use a whole head)
1 Piece of galanga 1/8-1/4 inch thick(dried or frozen OK)
Pepper (to taste) (we use white and black, about 2 teaspoons on a mild day)

In the Bowl:
1/4 c Scallions (the term I prefer over green onions) 1/2 c Basil leaves (sweet, thai, holy, cinnamon, lemon, etc.) and/or mint leaves (Please do not used dried basil, it crocks the taste) 1 1/2 ts Lemon juice or lime juice (or juice of 1/2 lemon) Chile paste (to taste) - you can always add more (see below) -or- 2 Minced chiles (your choice) (up to 3) 5 Kaffir Lime leaves or 2 teaspoons of grated lime peel 1 Sprig of cilantro

Place 4 cups of water in a pot. Add garlic, rice, fish sauce, pepper, galangal, and heat to boiling. While heating, bruise the lemon grass stalk(s) with the back of a cleaver and tie into knot. Drop lemon grass into stock pot(while it is heating). Dice chicken breasts into cubes and add to stock pot. Boil & stir.

While chicken is cooking (turning white), chop scallions and place into bowl. Add basil and/or mint leaves, lemon and/or lime juice, chiles and/or chile paste, plus the lime leaves and/or lime rind and cilantro.

After the chicken had boiled, scoop off the bubbly, white froth. Discard froth. Stir and pour into bowl with scallions, et. al. The broth will cook the leaves. Stir gently and serve immediately.

As usual, serve with jasmine rice for 2 hungry people or 3-4 not quite as hungry ones.

This is a meal I make 3-4 time a week. Just rice and the soup.


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