What kind of crazy person would recommend diving into a steamy bowl of lava-hot spicy soup in the middle of a heat wave? As temperatures flirt with the 100-degree mark in much of the country, one’s natural impulse might be to crawl into the freezer and eat all the ice cream while waiting for the blaze to subside. Instead, consider the human response to capsaicin, the “hot” component of all chilies and peppers which is actually considered an irritant in large doses. To combat that culinary chemical attack, we naturally begin to sweat, which in turn, actually cools the skin.
Suspend disbelief just long enough to embrace the burn, and your pain will likely turn to pleasure. That’s especially true if the hellbroth in question happens to bear the hallmarks of my favorite Thai soup, tom yum. Sometimes it shows up on menus as a romanized “Tom Yam,” which inspired me to pursue that concept more literally. Dropping the more typical addition of rice noodles in favor of spiralized yams, the sweet, sour, and spicy combination gains greater depth, and preparation is coincidentally simplified. Everything goes into one pot, cooks just to a boil, and dinner is served in an instant.
If you can’t stand the heat, literally, feel free to take down the spice level a notch by incorporating a splash of creamy, cooling coconut milk. Although “Tom Kha Yam Noodle Soup” doesn’t quite have the same ring, it definitely has an appetizing allure all its own.
Tom Yam Noodle Soup
1 Medium Yam, Peeled and Spiralized
3 – 4 Cups Mushroom or Vegetable Stock
1 Medium Shallot, Diced
1 Stalk Fresh Lemongrass, Bruised and Roughly Chopped
6 Makrut Lime Leaves, Bruised
1 Inch Fresh Galangal or Ginger, Sliced
1 Medium Roma Tomato, Diced
6 Ounces Medium-Firm Tofu, Cubed
6 Ounces Mixed Mushrooms, (Cremini, Shiitake, Trumpet, Oyster, and/or Straw Mushrooms) Sliced
2 Tablespoons Sambal Oelek
2 Teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Minced (Optional)
Start by spiralizing your peeled yam and placing it in a large stock pot over medium heat on the stove. Add in 3 cups of the stock to generously cover the vegetable noodles, along with the diced shallot.
Bundle up the bruised/chopped lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal or ginger in a large tea strainer and toss the whole thing into the pot. This allows for a powerful flavor infusion with easy removal later, since these items are too fibrous to comfortably consume.
Add in the tofu, mushrooms, sambal oelek, braggs, and lime juice. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the yam noodles are fork-tender but well before they start falling apart. Divide between two big bowls, top with cilantro if desired, and dig in immediately, while piping hot!
Makes 2 Servings