Coconut Lime Rice Soup (2 Ways!)
It all started with a dream.
Not an inspired “I have a dream!” type of dream. No, we’re talking about a weird dream in which I was on an episode of Top Chef Superstars (a show that doesn’t actually exist, right?) and apparently, I somehow was a Top Chef Superstar. Except I was wildly unprepared for the challenge I’d been given, which involved knowing how to skillfully prepare a (gross alert – skip over this if you’re squeamish) Hawaiian caterpillar fillet that was the size of my forearm (also something that doesn’t exist – please oh please say it doesn’t exist.)
I woke up in a panic, but also with an idea in my head: a simple coconut milk and lime soup with Thai flavors and a good amount of rice simmered in – one that would be perfect topped with either tofu or chicken. Or, apparently, served alongside giant caterpillar. So gross. So weird. So sorry.
I promise I don’t do drugs.
By afternoon, I had simmered up this superb Coconut Lime Rice Soup and was totally in love with it. I almost can’t wait for the next time I get a cold so that I can see if it’s the magic elixir I think it might be. I know, I know, don’t tempt fate, right?
I love love love this soup for its One-Dish-Two-Ways versatility. The soup cooks up perfectly vegan, and then the protein is in the toppings – shredded chicken for Mr. Carnivore (no Hawaiian um, meat, sorry babe); cubed tofu for Ms. Meatless (that’d be moi).
Coconut Lime Rice Soup (2 Ways!)
A simple soup bulked up with rice and influenced by Thai flavors. It simmers up vegan, then simply ladle into bowls and pile with your protein of choice (tofu for the vegans, chicken for the carnivores). Perfect for when omnivores and vegetarians/vegans dine together!
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk (full fat)
- 1/2 cup rice, rinsed (I use uncooked long-grain white rice; feel free to use a different kind but you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly)
- 1 thumb-size piece ginger, sliced into coins
- 1 3-inch piece fresh lemongrass, halved lengthwise, and crushed lightly with knife*
- 2-3 dried Thai bird-eye chiles (optional)**
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Marinated or plain extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes OR
- Shredded cooked chicken
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Sliced fresh chili peppers
- Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add broth, coconut milk, rice, ginger, lemongrass, chiles (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, pick out the ginger, lemongrass pieces, and birds-eye chiles and discard.
- Stir in lime zest and lime juice. Taste and add additional salt if desired.
- Ladle into bowls and top with a generous amount of tofu or chicken. Add garnishes – I like lots of fresh cilantro, sliced peppers, and an extra lime wedge for squeezing. Serve.
- Leftovers keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Note the soup does thicken up over time because the rice continues to absorb the liquid. But it still tastes delicious!
* Find lemongrass at your local well-stocked grocery store or Asian market. To prep, lop off the grassy end and and the bottom inch or so. Then cut off a 3-inch piece of what you have left. Slice it in half lengthwise then crush each half lightly with your knife to help release the oils.
** The chiles add a tiny amount of heat. Crush them before adding if you want more of a punch. I use Thai Kitchen brand, found in the Thai food section of my grocery store.