Thai Chicken Soup


Ginger and chiles give this Southeast Asian rendition its aroma and spice, while lemongrass lends the soup a seductive floral note. By swapping the traditional seasonings for more exotic ones, you achieve a soup that's just as soothing as the original but with nuanced layers of flavors.


  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into pieces (including back)

  • 8 cups water

  • Coarse salt

  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 4 thin slices fresh ginger, plus 1 tablespoon thin matchsticks

  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced

  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro (2 cups packed)

  • 2 large lemongrass stalks, yellow and pale-green parts only, sliced crosswise (½ cup), plus 1 tablespoon very thinly sliced

  • 3 strips (2 inches each) lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice (from 2 limes)

  • 1 or 2 fresh green Thai chiles, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

  • Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges


  1. Bring chicken, water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large stockpot. Skim foam. Add garlic, ginger slices, shallots, cilantro, 1/2 cup lemongrass, and the lime zest. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

  2. Remove breast, and set aside. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

  3. Strain soup through a sieve. Reserve legs and thighs, and discard remaining solids. Return soup to stockpot. Let chicken cool slightly. Remove meat from bones, and slice.

  4. Stir chiles, ginger matchsticks, and sliced lemongrass into strained soup. Simmer for 10 minutes. Skim fat. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Season with salt. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Originally appeared: Martha Stewart Living, January 2010
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