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Thai sour-and-spicy chicken soup with tamarind leaves

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

One of the new ingredients that I am super excited about are tender tamarind leaves. I was able to find another recipe in my cookbook library that was Thai. Of course I jumped at the occasion to make it before this short season is over.

The other recipe with tender tamarind leaves on this blog is, Hyderabadi lamb with tender tamarind leaves (Chingur gosht) A super simple soup to make with just a few ingredients. I loved how delicate the soup turned out. The tender tamarind leaves look wonderful floating in the soup, but also add a gentle tartness that compliments the Thai herbs, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. The soup finishes with a touch of spice in true Thai fashion. I must say I did enjoy this dish a lot. To make this soup a meal, add some cooked rice to the soup.

This is the ultimate book on Thai cooking, a massive tome filled with standard and unusual recipes like this one. This book covers all regions and cuisines in Thailand, a country with a diverse and deep food history. This is that book that every serious chef that must have on their shelves, or on their kitchen counter. You will see me post from this book more often

For more amazing recipes from this cookbook, click here.


6 cups water or ready chicken stock

Salt to taste

5 slices galangal, fresh preferred

2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1 inch slices

3 shallots, sliced

1 lb chicken, legs or thighs, with bone

A few drops fish sauce

2-3 kaffir lime leaves, halved

2 cups young tamarind leaves

2-4 Thai chilies, sliced in half along their length

2 tomatoes, cut into medium dice

A few drops fish sauce

For the chili sauce:

1/4 cup red Thai bird’s eye chilies, roughly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

To make the chili sauce:

Add the garlic, chilies, and salt and pound into a coarse paste. You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your mortar. You want it to be uneven and rough. I prefer to pound it in a mortar rather than to purée it in a blender. In a blender the paste ends up smooth and does not have the same effect. The paste will keep in the fridge for about 2-3 days.

To make the soup:

Heat the water/stock, salt, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and chicken to a gentle simmer. Cook covered gently for 5 minutes, scoop out any scum that rises to the top. Continue simmering gently for an additional 30 minutes or till the chicken is very tender.

Remove the chicken and cool. Remove the flesh from the bones and shred the meat with your fingers to shred into small pieces. Put the meat back into the soup and discard the bones.

Add the lime leaves, tamarind leaves and chilies and bring back to a simmer. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spices. Take off the heat and add the tomatoes and fish sauce and mix well.

Serve in bowls with the chili sauce on the side.

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