Hands down one of my favorite soups is probably Khao Poon. It is a Norther Thai or Lao soup that is not only super easy to make, but it makes a bunch and screams comfort. It is not a spicy soup, however you can make this as spicy as you want, not only with the broth, but accompanying it with Thai chili peppers. I wanted to make this one for my wife this past weekend because it reminded me when I was laid up with cancer over the summer and my friend Matt stopped by with a batch of Khao Poon that his wife had made. Not only talk about a great friend, but a really comforting bowl of soup during a not so comforting time.
Now my wife is hooked on this awesome soup as well. It’s an easy sell, trust me.
The cool thing about making this batch is when I was shopping for some ingredients at a local grocery store, is the owner had asked me what I was cooking. I said ‘Khao Poon’, and he was a bit startled and said ‘You know how to make that?’. He asked me about what ingredients I was using and suggested a couple of different things, one being banana blossom. I was intrigued to say the least as it is something I have never used before. So while walking out of the Asian grocery store, I was on my way to making a great batch of Khao Poon.
Let’s get started.
- 3 whole chicken breasts, skin on, bone in
- water to cover
- 2 stalks lemongrass, slightly smashed, optional
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup of shallots, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp fresh galangal, skin removed, thinly sliced
- 4 oz can red curry paste
- 4 oz can sweet Thai Noodle paste
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 1 cup of banana blossom, very thinly sliced, optional
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 cups bamboo shoots, roughly chopped
- 1 whole lime
- Thai chilies, optional
- Shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup bean sprouts, per serving
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- Khao Poon rice noodles, cooked al dente
Start by adding your chicken to a stock pot and cover entirely with cold water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Skim off any scum that floats to the top and discard. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. This will not only be the chicken that we let cool, shred, and pound a bit, but what is left will be the stock that we use for our soup. Win, win.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the stock, and let it completely cool. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin, and then start shredding the chicken. Once the chicken is shredded, take about half of it and add it to your mortar. Take your pestle and begin pounding the chicken. A few good moments of pounding is all you should need.
Ok, now onto the next step.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the oil and let it come to temperature. Next toss in the shallots, garlic, and thinly sliced galangal. Let this cook for a minute or so, then add in both of the curry pastes. Give this a good stir, and don’t be alarmed if this stuff starts popping at you.
Cook the paste, stirring along the way, for about 2-3 minutes, then add in all of the chicken. Give this another good stir, incorporating all of the paste into the chicken. Next add in the coconut milk. Give another good stir, and then pour all of this into the chicken stock. Stir well, bring the stock back onto medium heat, and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat by half, and then add in the banana blossom, bamboo shoots, and fish sauce. Give another good stir and cook for about 45 minutes.
During this time, make your noodles. Cook them for about 8 minutes, then strain them and rinse them in cold water. Once the water is strained, and the noodles are cooled, take a handful and wind them up into bundles. Repeat until all noodles are in nice bundles.
Have your cabbage, limes, chilies, and herbs ready. Raise the heat on the soup and bring back to a boil. Take a couple of bundles of noodles, or just one, and place in the bottom of a large soup bowl.
Add some bean sprouts, and cabbage, and give a good squeeze of lime. Ladle in a generous amount of khao poon, and top with come bird eye chili. Get your spoon and chop sticks ready! Face down, grab some noodles, slurp, and repeat. It’s all about texture (and flavor) in this bite. You get the crunch of the cabbage and sprouts, the tenderness of the chicken, and my gosh that coconut curry flavor! If you are looking for a flavor bomb, and a comforting soup year round, then this is the one. Hope you enjoy!