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Thai Basil, Lemongrass & Forbidden Rice Soup

Thai Basil, Lemongrass, and Forbidden Rice Soup, a Thai-inspired spicy chicken and rice soup featuring galangal, Thai basil, kaffir leaves, and lime. A big, bold, and flavorful dish!

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.

Thai food combines all of my absolute favorite flavors: basil, kaffir lime, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, and coconut. Somehow this odd mix of ingredients mixes together in a wonderful bold blend that is recognizably Thai.

After spending nearly a month in Thailand a few years ago I can confirm that everything from the high end restaurants to the street food is nothing short of amazing. I had the pleasure of taking a Thai cooking class while visiting the northern city of Chiang Mai, but somehow I’ve never been able to recreate those flavors in my own kitchen.

Until now.

This Thai Basil, Lemongrass and Forbidden Rice Soup is a creative take on chicken and rice, inspired by the flavors of Thailand. Don’t let the ingredient list scare you, it’s actually a very simple soup recipe that comes together in less than an hour and–like most soups–tastes better as leftovers.

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients you may not have cooked with before.

How to Cook with Lemongrass and Galangal

Finding ginger and chilies shouldn’t be a problem at most grocery stores, but lemongrass and galangal  will likely need to be sourced at an Asian specialty store. This was my first time working with both ingredients and I followed this video to learn how to cut lemongrass for soups. I chopped the soft centers and added to the pot, but also used the harder shells to flavor the broth (but remember to remove them before eating).

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Galangal is a root vegetable in the ginger family, but its very distinct flavor is what differentiates Southeast Asian cooking from similar Asian cooking styles. It should be peeled and either grated over soups or cut into larger pieces to flavor broth.

Like the lemongrass, I removed the large galangal pieces before serving as they are very tough and nearly inedible (but they shouldn’t be skipped!).

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.

A Word About Forbidden Rice

Forbidden rice. The name alone sounds mysterious and exotic. Black rice varieties have been growing in China for more than 10,000 years, but the rare rice was reserved exclusively for emperors and royalty. A study was done on the 21 types of black rice and researchers found that all forbidden rice is descended from a mutation in Japanese rice, which was thought to be cultivated into the forbidden rice we know and love today.

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.

Nowadays it has become a foodie fixture, replacing humdrum white or jasmine rice for an interesting twist on the starch staple. The dark color of forbidden rice comes from the antioxidant anthocyanin, which also gives eggplants and blueberries their dark hues.

A recipe that calls for ingredients you aren’t familiar with shouldn’t be skipped. Accept the challenge, learn something new, and incorporate these new culinary skills into future meals.

Tips, tricks, and tools: This Thai-inspired soup uses many ingredients that may be new to you, but does not require much cooking equipment other than a soup pot or a ceramic dutch oven.

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.


Loving this Thai-inspired soup? Check out our other soups inspired by our travels, such as Pozole Verde and Colombian Ajiaco.

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Did you try this Thai Basil, Lemongrass , and Forbidden Rice Soup? Leave us a comment and recipe rating below to let us know how it turned out. Saving this recipe for later? Pin it to your favorite soup Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see your soup creations!

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Thai Basil, Lemongrass & Forbidden Rice Soup

A thai-style soup with chicken and forbidden black rice with basil on a blue table.

Thai Basil, Lemongrass, and Forbidden Rice Soup, a Thai-inspired spicy chicken and rice soup featuring galangal, thai basil, kaffir leaves, and lime. A big, bold, and flavorful dish!

  • Author: Kristina Todini
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Soups & Stews
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Thai

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, lemongrass roots and shells, galangal, ginger, and chilies. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until onion starts to soften.
  2. Add stock, fish sauce, lime juice, kaffir leaves, salt, and chicken breasts.. Bring to boil for a few minutes to release flavors, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove galangal and hard lemongrass shells. Remove cooked chicken, allow to cool, then shred with fork and return to soup.
  4. Add precooked forbidden rice prior to serving. Rice will release color and blacken soup if added before cooking.
  5. Top with basil leaves and carrots, and enjoy!

Notes

Leftovers & Storage: This Thai Basil, Lemongrass, and Forbidden Rice Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, and in fact the flavors get better with time and the soup is even more delicious on the second day.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 374
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 880mg
  • Fat: 8g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 54g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Cholesterol: 22mg

Keywords: thai basil lemongrass forbidden rice soup

Thai Basil, Lemongrass, and Forbidden Rice Soup, a Thai-inspired spicy chicken and rice soup featuring galangal, thai basil, kaffir leaves, and lime. A big, bold, and flavorful dish! #soup #thai #lemongrass #forbiddenrice #galangal #soup #chicken
Written by
Kristina Todini, RDN

Welcome! I'm a registered dietitian who believes that food should be good for you AND good for the planet. Join me in taking the "fork in the road" to eat green and live sustainably.

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