Creativity characterizes this week’s recipe because it takes the turkey out of the country and transports it to a tropical island. By adding tropical flavors to the traditional bird, the result is a soup that is big on taste and still maintains the nutritional value of the turkey.
Coconut milk provides the basic tropical flavor to the soup. Contrary to popular belief, coconut milk is derived from the flesh of the coconut, not the watery liquid that is drained from the coconut when the shell is punctured. Coconut milk should be thick and creamy. To produce coconut milk the coconut pulp is finely grated and steeped in hot water and then squeezed through cheesecloth. Generally, a quality product will have a layer of thicker cream on the top and thinner milk on the bottom. It can be shaken to produce a more uniform thickness, or the cream can be skimmed off for other purposes. It should be refrigerated immediately to prevent spoiling.
Coconut milk is somewhat high in saturated fat and should be used sparingly simply for its flavor. The use of light coconut milk provides flavor with a lower saturated fat content.
Lemongrass is often used in combination with coconut milk. The narrow foliage of lemongrass ranges from blue-green to gold and the flowers are white, cream or green. Underutilized in American cuisine, lemongrass has long been associated with savory Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Cambodian cooking.
The mushrooms add their own taste and nutritional magic. Neither plant nor animal, they lack the chlorophyll that plants use to manufacture their own food and energy. Instead, they are the fruit of the fungal organism that produces them. For this recipe they add an earthy taste and consistency to the soup.
The lime and ginger complete the layers of tropical flavors. And, if you like a little spice you can add Thai chiles or jalapeno peppers to create the desired level of heat. Doing so tends to balance the somewhat natural sweetness of the recipe with a bit of zest while maintaining the smooth flavor of the dish.
Easy to prepare, this soup is a great way to enjoy the goodness of turkey in a new way.
Tropical Coconut and Lime Turkey Soup – Makes 4 servings.
* 4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife
* 3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn (can be found in Asian markets if not available, bay or basil leaves may be substituted)
* 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
* 2 small Thai chiles or 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly (optional)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 lb. boneless turkey breast, cooked and diced
* 1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
* 1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
* 1 ½ tsp. sugar
* 1 cup white button mushrooms
* 3 limes, juiced
* Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
* ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Heat broth in large pot over medium-high heat until boiling. Add lemon grass, lime leaves, ginger, chiles or pepper (if using) and garlic. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Pull out lemon grass and lime leaves, using a pair of tongs.
Add rest of ingredients through lime juice and cook for about 5 more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro
Serve with lime wedges on the side.
Per serving: 240 calories, 8 g total fat (6 g saturated fat), 10 g carbohydrate, 33 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 530 mg sodium
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