This delicious Lemongrass Soup, or Coconut Water Chicken Soup, is naturally sweet from the coconut (no need to add sugar.) The bright notes of the lemongrass and ginger, make it the perfect light and refreshing soup for fall, winter or rainy weather! Plus, it's on the table in under 30 minutes, so perfect for a quick weeknight dinner!
Why Make This
- Easy and versatile: This Lemongrass Soup is something my family has made many times. If you enjoy Thai cuisine, you'll love it! You can eat it as a side dish or as a main (just add noodles or rice, like I do in this golden Chinese pumpkin rice with soup.) Chicken Noodle Soup is perfect for cold weather!
- Healthy: Unlike the usual chicken coconut soup, coconut water is used instead of coconut milk or cream, so it has less fat. The ginger is a flu-busting healthy ingredient. Tastier and more nutritious than anything from the Thai restaurant!
- Quick: It's a nutritious meal in 30 minutes!
Tip: If you like soup, you may also be interested in this quick and easy Chinese vegan wonton soup recipe that's ready in 20 minutes but doesn't need shop bought stock/ stock powder/ bouillon cubes!
The main ingredients in this light Asian lemongrass chicken soup are:
- a young coconut: Get this at the Asian grocery store or substitute with bottled coconut water (available in the regualar shop.) Extra coconut water can be used in these recipes, such as this coconut water agar agar jelly.
- chicken stock: homemade is best but you can also use a bouillon cube or chicken stock powder (dissolve it in the coconut juice.) If using homemade chicken broth, you will need to add a tad more seasoning. You can use vegetable broth if vegetarian
- lemon grass: If you can't buy 1- 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass and only a whole bunch, pop the extra in a glass of water to keep them fresh for a long time. They'll grow roots, and when you cut off the tops, you can plant the bottom 2-3 inches to get yourself a new lemongrass! (If you've problems using up your lemongrass stalks, try these Asian lemongrass recipes.) I have not tried the Asian soup recipe with lemongrass paste.
- fresh ginger slices: please do not use ginger powder!
- tomatoes: cherry tomatoes will make the soup even sweeter!
- fish sauce: in a pinch, use light soy sauce, but not sweet soy sauce of dark soy sauce. However, please use fish sauce if you can find it- it is much better with the tropical aromas of this recipe!
- fresh lime juice: The substitute is lemon juice but nothing beats the tang of lime juice!
- Optional: green onion, fresh cilantro or toasted dried shrimp as garnish
Optional Ingredients: add some Shiitake mushrooms, Napa cabbage or bok choy for nutrition. To bulk i up, throw in some shrimp or chicken. (I recommend chicken thighs over chicken breast, as the latter has less flavor and dries up very quickly.)
Note: If you've never used coconut water in your cooking before, I promise that this coconut chicken soup recipe will be revelatory. It brings a natural sweetness to your cooking, eliminating the need for any additional refined sugar- healthy and delicious! (I use it in the sugar-free jelly dessert shown above too!)
- Spicy: For a hint of heat, add some red pepper flakes or sliced red Thai chili.
- Tom Yum Soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง ): add the Thai herbs, galangal and Kaffir Lime leaf, to the soup pot for Thai flavors! Alternatively, add Tom Yum Paste.
- Tom Kha Gai: Add galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chilli paste and some light coconut milk.
- Thai Curry Soup: Add green curry paste or red curry paste and coconut milk
1a. Add the chicken stock, coconut water, lemongrass, shallot and ginger to a large pot. Bring to the boil over high heat.
1b. Once the mixture is boiling (2-3 minutes), reduce to medium heat and let the soup simmer. You should be able to smell the fragrance of the herbs after 5 minutes, if not increase the heat slightly.
Note: if adding chicken thigh meat, abalone, fish fillet or shrimp to the soup, add it the soup now.
2a. Allow the soup to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to extract all the fragrance of the herbs.
Note: Make sure all the meat or seafood are cooked, before moving to the next step.
2b. Add the tomatoes and lime juice & allow the soup to return to the boil.
2c. Season with fish sauce, or salt, to taste. Enjoy!
Alternatively, bulk up the dish into a main, by adding noodles or rice.
Tip #1: To up your game, skip the shop-bought chicken broth. Instead, make this soup by double boiling chicken meat in the fresh coconuts directly (plus the other ingredients in this recipe.) This slow cooking will help the chicken release its natural flavours directly into the coconut- just make sure you pour out the coconut juice before adding the chicken, then add the liquid back into the shell (if not it will spill everywhere.) People are also always very impressed when they see the soup being served in the coconut shells!
Tip #2: If getting your coconut from a fruit seller ask them to help you cut the top of the coconut off to make your life easier. (Alternatively, choose pre-cut coconuts at the Asian supermarket.)
Tip #3: The coconut flesh (white part) can be eaten after you have drunk the soup- it will be soft and tender after being double boiled.
It adds a hint of sweetness to the food, without the need for a pinch of sugar. (Too much refined sugar isn't good.) Some recipes which use coconut water include agar agar jelly, thit kho (Vietnamese braised pork) and Chinese coconut water chicken soup.
Suggested Accompanying Recipes
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EASY Lemongrass Soup (25 min)
- Pot with cover
- 2 cups chicken stock Can be substituted with vegetable or seafood stock. If using unseasoned homemade stock, add a bit more seasoning and tomatoes.
- 2 cups coconut water I’ve used both fresh and bottled but, if the latter, make sure it’s pure coconut water. If using fresh, try to get a young coconut.
- 1 shallot a large one, halved and peeled (Substiute: onion, preferably red)
- 2 lemongrass cut off root ends and bash with the back of a knife to release the fragrance. No need to slice into smaller pieces- it's easier to remove a big stalk from the soup pot!Pop the root ends into water- leave at least 1 inch on the root- to grow yourself a new lemongrass!
- 1 inch ginger thinly sliced
- 3 tomatoes (Cut into 6 pieces- 4 is too chunky) Don't add too many or the soup will be too sweet. Likewise, if you use cherry tomatoes instead, you will need to increase the amount of lime juice as cherry tomatoes are sweeter than regular ones.
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice The acidity is necessary to lift the taste as well as to balance the sweetness of the coconut water. Substitute: lemon juice
- Fish sauce To taste. Can be substituted with salt or light soy sauce- the flavour will have slightly less depth but will still be tasty
Optional Ingredients To Add to the Soup
- Shrimp Can poach in the soup
- White Fish Fillet Can poach in the soup
- Noodles or Cooked Rice
- Tau kee (fried beancurd)
- fried dried prawns (hae bee)
- sliced red chilies
- spring onions
- Add the chicken stock, coconut water, lemongrass, ginger and shallot to a pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once the mixture is boiling, reduce to medium heat and let the soup simmer. You should be able to smell the fragrance of the herbs after 5 minutes, if not increase the heat slightly. Note: if adding chicken thigh meat, abalone, fish fillet or shrimp to the soup, add it the soup now.
- Allow the soup to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to extract all the fragrance of the herbs. Make sure all the meat or seafood are cooked!
- Add the tomatoes and lime juice & allow the soup to return to the boil.
- Season with fish sauce, or salt, to taste.
- The above makes the basic soup base which can be drunk as it is.
- To bulk up the dish into a main, add either noodles or rice. Note: I like to add tang hoon (mung/ greenbean vermicelli) which is first soaked in hot water. Once the noodles have softened, they are then added to the soup. Give everything a stir for 1-2minutes then serve.Alternatively, you could add cooked rice to the soup once the soup has finished simmering to make “paofan” or submerged rice.
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