This soup is absolutely incredible and worth every bit of the effort. It may seem a little instense the first time you attempt it, but after that it really is quite simple.
The ingredients may seem a little "out there" but a good Asian store should have everything. Get aquainted with the owner and they should help you to find what
10 lime leaves
3 pieces of lemon grass
10 thin slices of galangal
3 cups of water or broth
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of straw mushrooms, drained
2 pieces of palm sugar
1/2 cup of Tom Kha Paste
juice of 2 limes
1 tbs fish sauce
2 TBS fresh basil (optional)
STEP 1 Prepare the first 3 ingredients:
Cut the lemon grass into 2 inch pieces, discarding the straw-like tops. Then smash each piece with a mallot to help release its flavor.
The first 3 ingredients are aromatics, which means they are used for flavor, but are not eaten. Put these in the broth and let simmer for about 20 minutes and then remove. The easiest way to do this is to put them in cheese cloth and then put it in the water or broth. This makes it very easy to remove them. I also like to add the palm sugar at this point to give it time to dissolve.
Remove the aromatics and add the coconut milk, mushrooms, and Tom Ka Paste.
Let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lime juice, fish sauce, and basil. Serve immediately.