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[Photograph: Masano Kawana]

Tom kah gai is a Thai takeout classic, at least in my house. Between the lush coconut milk, tender chicken, and tangy, lemongrass-laced broth, it's serious comfort food. Katie Chin's version in Everyday Thai Cooking exhibits the perfect balance between the richness of the coconut fat and the sour and salty notes from the herbs, lime, and fish sauce. Using boneless chicken thighs cuts the cooking time down to mere minutes, while the meat stays tender and flavorful. Chin goes so far as to say that this soup is the Thai version of chicken noodle or matzo ball—try it out this cold season and report back!

Why I picked this recipe: Chicken soup equals comfort to me, and I like it even better when it's packed with hot, sour, and sweet flavors.

What worked: I made the red chili paste from scratch, and definitely didn't regret taking the extra 20 minutes to do so. The additional spice, tang, and shrimpy funk added a wonderful level of depth to an otherwise simple soup.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: You could substitute any other protein (or additional vegetables, like eggplant or peppers) for the chicken.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Everyday Thai Cooking to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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