quintessential flavors of Southeast Asia
In our last post we shared with you the healthy benefits of some popular traditional Thai ingredients. In this article we will go one step further and discuss the benefits of traditional Thai soups. It may be quite surprising to know that there are many soup variations around Thailand.
Globally popular Tom Yum and Tom Kha soups are just 2 of the Thai soups that could fall into a few categories - classic choices, Issan favourites, Southern delights, sour sensations, healthy options and street food specials.
A taste sensation loved by all walks of life from the unique Thai street food culture and busy markets to the exquisite splendors of Thai fine dining, let us look at three of the benefits, that make Thai soup so amazing and popular.
1. Simple ingredients to source
A great benefit of Thai soups is the ease at which the ingredients can be found.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Thailand when shopping for your soup, you will usually find the ingredients you need quite easily, in the local family run corner store, local wet market or you may even catch the local man walking down your side street blowing his horn, announcing his cart full of fresh herbs and vegetables.
However if you live elsewhere, your local fruit and veg market will have most of the ingredients you desire. The only ingredient you may have trouble finding is galangal- (Thai ginger) it can be substituted for ginger but the flavour will change slightly. The ingredients are also very cost efficient and if you are partial to the green thumb, very easy to grow in a home garden.
2. Quick and easy preparation and cooking time
Thai soups are perfect for our very busy in this modern worlds, were we find ourselves juggling a multitude of things every day.
A typical preparation time for a Thai soup is about 30 minutes from start to finish.
There is a basic formulae for making Thai soups and that starts with the simmering of herbs and spices in a light watery broth. Fresh herbs are typically used and there does not have to be much effort made in chopping and prepping. The herbs are cleaned and broken up with the hands and thrown into the liquid to release an almost instant aroma. The meat and the vegetables follow next and simmer together for about half an hour or longer if desired and then is ready to be served.
The quick cook time also has an additional health benefit.
A quick simmer maintains the healthy nutrients within the ingredients such as magnesium, calcium, amino acids, and glutamine. In the West broths are known to be cooked in a long, slow simmering manner that is not as beneficial in maintaining the medicinal benefits of herbs and spices.
Which bring us to our third point......
3. Many Thai soups have amazing medicinal benefits
We have mentioned the Thai university study before, in our previous posts, that stated "Thais have a much lower incidence of digestive tract cancers than people do in other countries. Traditional Thai cuisine -- famed for its heavy use of herbs and spices -- has long been known to have health benefits.
With deep studies being held on the medical benefits of Tom Yum Soup." There is such a nourishing and restorative power in the ingredients used in Thai soups. with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, abilities in lowering cholesterol levels, antibacterial and antifungal properties great for heart disease, candida, soothes achy joints, rheumatism, cough and nausea problems, anti-aging properties.
However the biggest world recognized health benefit of Thai soups is its ability to fight even the toughest gut bacteria, in fact Thai people are thought to have exceptionally healthy digestive tracts.
Research has shown that the many health benefits of Thai soup, comes down to traditional Thai ingredients and three of the most beneficial being galangal, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.
Galangal's immense healing powers are antibacterial and antifungal great for heart, stomach ulcers, better blood circulation and revitalizes the skin. Kaffir lime leaves are amazing for gum and oral health, an effective liver cleanser, blood detoxifier and assist with the digestive process. Lemongrass prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast, relieves pain and swelling in the joints, reduces fever during colds and flu and improve levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood.