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Lior Lev Sercarz, from "Mastering Spice" by Lior Lev Sercarz
Creamy coconut milk gives this soup a luxurious richness, and fish sauce adds a savory depth. A Southeast Asian–inspired blend of cilantro, lemongrass, galangal, and chile comes together with the sweetness of palm sugar. If you don’t have that on hand, coconut sugar or brown sugar lends a similar full-bodied sweetness. This soup is delicious on its own or with cooked rice noodles stirred in.
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground lemongrass (10 grams)
1 teaspoon palm sugar (5 grams)
Mix together the lemongrass, cilantro, galangal, jalapeño powder, and palm sugar.
1 whole (3-pound) chicken, quartered (or 2 bone-in, skin-on breasts, 2 bone-in, skin-on thighs, and 2 drumsticks)
3 medium carrots
1 large parsley root or small celery root
2 small yellow onions
2 large celery stalks
2 Granny Smith apples
4 garlic cloves
1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the chicken into quarters: Use poultry shears or a sharp knife to cut along one side of the backbone and one side of the breastbone to halve the chicken. Cut each half into two pieces between the breasts and thighs. (If your store sells whole chickens already quartered, you can buy that and skip this step.)
Sprinkle half the spice mix all over the chicken, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with oil to coat (1 to 2 tablespoons). Place on the prepared pan, skin-side down. Roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over and roast until the other side is browned, about 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, scrub the carrots and peel the parsley root. Cut the carrots, parsley root, onions, and celery into 11⁄2-inch chunks. Quarter and core the apples. Cut the garlic cloves in half.
Heat a large Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with oil (2 to 3 tablespoons) and heat until shimmering. Add the vegetables, apples, and remaining spice mix. Stir well, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, 10 to 13 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Stir and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Nestle the chicken into the vegetables. (Keep the oven on.) Pour 1 cup water into the sheet pan to loosen any browned bits and pour into the Dutch oven. Add another 5 cups water. The liquids should just cover the solids. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and transfer to the oven.
Bake until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer the Dutch oven to the stovetop. Uncover the pot and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to another sheet pan. When cool, peel off the skin, pull out the bones, and return the skin and bones to the soup; shred the cooled meat and set aside.
Simmer the soup on the stovetop over low heat for about 25 minutes and then use a slotted spoon to remove (and discard) the skin and bones. Return the shredded meat to the soup, season to taste with salt, and serve hot.