Lemongrass Garden Soup

50 Comments

Because of where I live, I have never been able to buy fresh lemongrass. I could probably live without it, but being a fan of Thai cuisine, in which it plays a significant role, I was determined this year to grow lemongrass. Problem solved.

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The plant itself, here in September, is almost as tall as I am – at about 5′ tall. If the long leaves stood straight on end the plant would probably reach 8 feet tall. It’s a pretty grass, but doesn’t have a strong smell, say, like lemon balm.

When it came around to harvesting some lemongrass bulbs, which is the only part of the plant that’s used for culinary purposes, as far as I know, I had to watch some you-tube videos. I really had no idea what to do with the gigantic grass. I actually have three of these monstrous plants in my garden.

Well, it’s terribly simple. You simple pull one of the individual bulbs out of the dirt. One whole plant of mine must be made up of approximately 30 small bulbs.

I imagine the harvesting is much simpler if your dirt is soft; mine is not. In the process of attempting to pull a few bulbs out, I actually fell over onto the lemongrass leaves. They’re very sharp. I’d even used a small shovel to help me. But I managed to get four out of the ground without killing myself.

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Then you rinse off the lemongrass, trim the roots, and cut the bulbs into approximately 6″ lengths. Trim off the outside leaves until there are no loose leaves left. And there’s your bulb.

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So, I finally have lemongrass. The reason this soup is called lemongrass garden soup, is that everything in this soup is from the garden, except for the onion and garlic. I wanted to use my garden vegetables, and also see what lemongrass really does flavor-wise. So here’s what I did:
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Lemongrass Garden Soup

1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 small bulbs lemongrass, sliced in half
4 cloves garlic
5 red nardello chile peppers, coarsely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Sprig of basil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chicken broth

Begin by placing the lemongrass, garlic and chile peppers in a stock pot.
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Add the chopped tomatoes and sprig of basil.

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Add the butternut squash on top and sprinkle on some salt. I use a chicken broth powder along with water to make my broth; you can see the powder in the photo. Alternatively, pour chicken broth (or vegetable broth) just until it reaches the top of the squash.
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Bring everything to a boil, and simmer gently with the lid on, for approximately 30 minutes.
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Then remove the lid and reduce the broth until there’s just enough for blending the vegetables.
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Let the mixture cool, then blend in the blender.

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Reheat the soup before serving.


You can serve with a little butter or a dollop of sour cream.
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I topped the soup with a simple chiffonade of purple basil.

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note: You can make a creamier soup by using cream evaporated milk, sour cream, or goat’s milk in place of some of the broth.

verdict: I purposely didn’t add any spices because I really wanted to taste the lemongrass. I did add a few chile peppers, but they’re mild. In the end, I could hardly taste the lemongrass. Either it’s milder than I realized, or my lemongrass plants aren’t the quality that I expected.

50 thoughts on “Lemongrass Garden Soup

  1. So impressed with your lemon grass efforts! I love growing grasses but have never thought to try an edible variety. Sounds like you might want to try a different species of lemon grass next year if the flavor wasn’t up to par. Still, it looks like a lovely soup :).

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  2. Brilliant idea to grow your own lemon grass. I make lots of Thai cuisine at home so I would just be crushed if I could not find it fresh. I am thinking about trying to grown my own fresh Thai holy basil. I love it how about you? Beautiful soup with your garden harvest.

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    • I just wish you could tell me if my lemongrass is good. It’s suspiciously mild, but like I said, I’ve never worked with it before. Good luck with the Thai basil, although living where you do you have a better chance of getting a high quality plant. I also planted San Genovese basil this year and it was nothing special. Maybe I need to change sources!

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  3. I wouldn’t mind growing my own next year..what a great idea! Especially since you can’t get it fresh where you live.
    As far as for potency, have a look at where it would grow naturally…rainy or dry? water has a large effect on potency of a lot of vegetables. I found the onions in Australia terribly potent compared to ones in Canada.
    Also, in addition to slicing the stalks lengthwise have a go at pounding them a bit to break up the insides and release some aromas.

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  4. Hi Mimi, the fresh lemon grass I buy from the Asian market has quite a strong scent when I cut it. Did the inside show a purple ring? I only have experience adding lemon grass to curry pastes for Thai and Indonesian cooking. The Asian market also has frozen lemon grass, perhaps you can get that? You are brave to grow your own — especially the harvesting sounds challenging.

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  5. Wow, Mimi – this soup looks wonderful! And I’m in awe of your lemongrass. I grew it in a pot one year and was able to use some of it before it all just up and died on me. I’ve not tried growing it again, though I’ve been tempted. Is this a perennial for you?

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  6. Your plant has done very well greenfingered Mimi. I agree with Bam. It needs to be bashed to release the flavour, I use a mortar and pestle. I wonder if the flavours you used with the lemon grass overpowered it. Search on line for Vietnamese lemongrass pork, a wonderful marinade for grilled meat. You will be better able to gauge the level of aroma in your plant using this or a similar simple recipe where the lemongrass is the hero. Good luck with it

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    • Great idea, thanks. There was no flavor that could have overpowered the lemongrass. That’s exactly why I didn’t spice up the soup. And, I blendered the soup, so wouldn’t that pass as bashing it?

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      • I think the butternut and tomato might be in a flavour band that suppressed the lemongrass. It has a fresh lively lemon flavour, but is not as strong as lemon myrtle or lemon zest. The lemongrass is always pounded before cooking in Asian recipes, not sure if it makes a difference or not, but worth a try

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  7. Wow, Mimi. That is an impressive plant and an impressive soup! It looks so fresh and healthy. Perfect for the season. Love the edible flower and purple basil too. It’s just gorgeous.

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  8. Fabulous use of lemongrass! I agree, the lemongrass I find around here in the PNW is always dried out looking. I wonder if you need more compost in your soil to make it easier to pull out? Of course I’m just guessing, I’ve never grown it…

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  9. I certainly give you credit for testing the lemongrass. Even if you didn’t want to use the roots for cooking, they’re pretty neat ornamental plants anyway. The soup really does look mouthwatering even if the lemongrass didn’t live up to expectations. Maybe it’s your soil?

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