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!)
- 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!