Recipe: Thai Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup with Fermented Radishes

Posted on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | By Alycia Lang |
Early Winter Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup Detail

The journey to becoming a fermenter (or fermentista as Kirsten Shockey, author of Fermented Vegetables and the teacher of our upcoming fermenting class, dubbed herself) begins for different reasons for different people.

For some, it's the food memories of their childhoods; a longing to recapture the flavor of kosher dill pickles from a long-closed neighborhood deli, or a desire to taste the sauerkraut and pork goulash your Czech grandmother used to make. For others, it's a desire to harness the health benefits of live foods and integrate beneficial bacteria into their diet. For me, it all started with a recipe for pork and kimchi dumplings (found in this fantastic book).

When I encountered this recipe, I was living far away from any decent Korean restaurant so I realized if I wanted those mouth-watering dumplings to become a reality, I would have to make them myself. This meant starting with homemade kimchi. Even though this meal required a lot more work and time than a normal dinner, when I tasted those phenomenal dumplings, I realized I had opened the door to fermenting and, 5 years later, it's a door I'm glad I walked through.

For those that don't have a dish that haunts their dreams and forces them through the fermenting gateway, knowing what to do with your finished product can often be what stops a would-be fermentista. Our friends can't use the excuse that they don't know the process or don't have the tools, so here are our tips for how to best enjoy your fermented veggies (besides just straight out of the jar!):

Up the flavor (and health factor) of salads and sandwiches

The easiest way to use your fermented goodies is to add them to something you're already making. A simple green salad is vastly improved by the addition of fermented beets and potato salad with fermented celery will blow your mind. The Reuben is a classic, but we also love kraut on a grilled cheese or tuna melt.

Rich foods are brightened and lightened by the addition of fermented foods

In much the same way that lemon juice or vinegar is sometimes the missing ingredient in a dish, fermented vegetables can add a layer of complexity and a touch of tangy, bright flavor to your favorite comfort foods. Try fermented radishes on coconut milk and chicken soup (recipe below) or fermented green tomatoes on a burger.

Cooking with fermented foods is ideal when you're low on raw vegetables

If you haven't made it to the store recently but still want to serve your family something healthful, remember that fermentation originated as a way to extend the life of fresh vegetables. Using your ferments allows you to incorporate healthy veggies into your meal even without a trip to the market. If you always keep kimchi, rice, and eggs on hand a meal of fried rice is quick, satisfying, and healthful!

Don't forget the brine!

The brine left after you eat your ferments is tangy, delicious, and chock full of healthful bacteria. Mix it into salad dressings, soak nuts in it for a great snack, or (our favorite) use it as the base for a cocktail!

Thai Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup with Fermented Radishes

Early Winter Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup

This is our take on a traditional Thai soup that is the essence of comfort food — the creamy coconut milk and flavors of sweet, salty, and sour flavors come together perfectly. Topped with chopped fermented radishes and fresh sprouts, this soup stays fresh and light.

Early Winter Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup Ingredients Fermenty Radish 


  • 4 cups chicken stock, ideally unsalted
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 5 Tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar (ideally palm sugar if you have it - can be purchased online or at any Asian grocery store)
  • 2 cups white button mushrooms
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Cellophane rice noodles (optional)
  • 1 lime
  • 10 fermented radish slices
  • small handful bean sprouts


  1. Peel and finely mince the ginger.
  2. Thinly slice the scallions. Separate the white and light green parts from the darker green ends.
  3. Separate the cilantro leaves from the stems. Set the leaves aside. Finely chop the stems.
  4. Add the ginger, white and light green parts of the scallions, and cilantro stems to a stock pot with the stock and coconut milk.
  5. Bring soup to a simmer and stir in fish sauce, sugar, and the juice from half the lime.
  6. While broth cooks, cut mushrooms into quarters and chicken into cubes.
  7. When broth comes to a boil, add mushrooms and chicken and cook about 10 minutes at a low boil.
  8. If using, add rice noodles at the very end, turn soup off and cover tightly. Allow soup to sit about 5 minutes.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with remaining lime wedges and topped with scallion greens, cilantro leaves, sprouts and chopped radishes.