Spicy Tom Kha

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soup-entry Awhile ago during my 5 days on $30 adventure I accidentally created a spicy Tom Kha. It's a soup that I love, and decided to try to perfect for this competition. The most difficult part was coming up with how to execute and present it. I didn't want to give a traditional offering, but didn't want to go too far off the deep end either. One of my biggest problems with soups is that many of them are one note- every spoonful tastes exactly the same. For this reason, I decided to do a progression. A progression allows me to present a variety of tastes, which makes decision making easier, and defy the monotony of other soups. This soup can be presented in a shallow bowl, or in a ladder of Chinese soup spoons. There are four tastes in all- the traditional, fennel confit, fried plantains with chili, and mint peas to cleanse the pallete. I think they do a wonderful job of showcasing the versatility of the broth. To make the broth, start sauteeing 1 large carrot, diced, and 1 yellow onion, diced, and 1 12inch lemongrass stalk, split, in oil. Once translucent, pour in 24oz of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes strain the soup and add 1 [12oz] can of coconut milk. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes and the broth is done. Beware that if left alone for a long period of time the soup can seperate, which is perfectly natural. It is best to make the garnishes while the soup is simmering, the fennel one should probably be started before. The traditional offering is shredded chicken with cilantro and a green chile. This can be prepared by sauteeing any white cut of chicken with salt and pepper, letting it cool, then shredding with a fork. The fennel is prepared the same way one would caramalize onions for french onion soup. Thin slices of a bulb with half a stick of butter on med-low heat for 45min-1hr. For the plantains, use ripe ones. They will appear rotten on the outside, but are are sweet and perfectly ripe on the inside. Slice them into long quarters, then across. Saute in butter and lightly dust with red chile powder and salt when they come out of the pan. The peas are the easiest component. Defrost frozen peas, and saute with olive oil, salt, and a chiffonade of mint. Put all four offerings in different corners of the bowl Garnish the fennel confit with a fresh sprig from the bulb. When the diner is ready, pour the broth into their bowl at the last minute, but allow them to still see the different corners. Or, these also make wonderful tastings with Chinese soup soons. When serving with a bowl, provide a lime wedge to squeeze into the broth. If going the soup spoon route just squeeze some over the traditional offering. Enjoy!