Chicken Meatballs Are The Elevated Twist Your Tom Kha Soup Needs

If you're eager to embark on a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of Thailand, there's no better starting point than a steaming bowl of tom kah soup. This Thai classic is a blend of luscious flavors and boasts the bright essence of galangal with the velvety embrace of coconut broth. Traditionally containing slices of tender chicken breast and a medley of fresh vegetables, tom kah is a recipe that is both simple to make and complex on the palate. Tasting Table's Michelle McGlinn devised a Thai chicken meatball tom kha recipe that layers even more Thai flavors into the pot.

Incorporating the essence of lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, McGlinn's chicken meatballs transform the soup with just a few essential ingredients. These savory meatballs — bound by a delicate balance of egg and crispy panko breadcrumbs — undergo a quick oven roast before finding their home within the fragrant, curry-infused soup broth. A final garnish of lime and cilantro completes the medley of flavors.

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In traditional tom kha soup, slices of chicken add texture. Instead of confining it to a textural component, McGlinn's recipe places more emphasis on the chicken. McGlinn says, "Here, the chicken takes a front seat as big, juicy meatballs filled with flavor." She points out that although she hand chops the aromatic ingredients, you can save a little time by using a food processor. Her other useful tip is to pan-fry or bake the meatballs rather than trying to simmer them in the broth, where they might fall apart.

The meatballs might be the star of the soup, but McGlinn says, "You'll be slurping the broth down to the last drop!" "Kha" is the Thai word for "galangal," an aromatic and nearly floral relative of ginger. The ingredient naturally takes center stage in this classic soup. McGlinn introduces dried galangal to infuse the broth, complemented by the rich galangal notes found in red curry paste. The paste also brings a spicy chili kick and the zesty essence of makrut lime leaves, adding irresistible layers to the soup. To round out the flavor profile, fish sauce and palm sugar come into play. All of this is in service of harmonizing the spicy elements and crafting an irresistibly addictive Thai flavor medley.