If I could muster any strength, I’d see the irony of getting sick in July. I blame air travel and sinister little airborne germs. I think next time I’ll have to cover my entire body with that disinfectant lotion prior to boarding, you know which one I mean (Greg and I are now both trying to think of the proper term and drawing a complete blank. Does the lotion thingie have a name? I think we turned into zombies.) edit: a sanitizer. OMG.
Congee is a thick porridge of rice which has usually disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water. That’s what I intended to make anyway, but it seemed so bland. Bland bad… Bring on the coconut milk, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. That’s already better…
Before I completely disintegrate myself, here’s the soup. My recipe is more soupy than porridgy – but feel free to add more rice for a thicker consistency. You’ll need to increase it to about 3 cups and if you let the rice simmer for 1 hour, stirring every now and then, the result will be thick, creamy, rich in coconut and peanut butter flavor. A warm blankie, really. We took a shortcut today, as you can see in the pictures.
The chicken is there to give you a bit of strength and protein, but it’s the broth we’re really after. It has a nice citrus smell, coming from the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, a touch of ginger and freshly chopped herbs.
And here’s an idea – make a big batch and pour some off into freezer bags. You never know when you’ll need it.
- 4 litres of water
- 1 tbs salt or more to taste
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
- 2 sq. inch piece of ginger, thickly sliced
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 star anise
- 3 medium kaffir lime leaves
- 1 whole chicken
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 cups jasmine rice (increase to 3 for thicker consistency)
- freshly chopped herbs to garnish: cilantro, thai basil, mint
- Pour the water into a stockpot. Add the salt, bruised lemongrass (twist and pound it to release the flavor, put the whole thing in the pot), ginger, celery, onions, star anise, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to the boil.
- Place the chicken in the boiling broth and cook, uncovered over medium-high heat, for 10 minutes. Turn off the stove and cover. Let stand for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and plunge into cold water to cool. When cool enough to handle, tear into bite-size pieces and set aside. Reserve the carcass with the bones.
- Return the carcass to the broth, cover, and simmer for an additional hour.
- After one hour - remove the carcass and all broth ingredients in the pot and discard, reserving the broth. A small strainer works best to lift the ingredients out.
- Pour the rice into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Dry-toast the rice, stirring often, until fragrant and light golden, but not burned. Stir the rice into the broth and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may simmer it for twice as long, for better consistency. Stir some more, or lightly puree with an immersion blender.
- Add the coconut milk to the broth and continue cooking over medium heat for a couple of minutes, taking care not to boil.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the shredded chicken and fresh herbs.
- You can freeze the soup for up to 3 months.