Next week I will finally be releasing my new book, The Thai Soup Secret, which will include 40 recipes for different types of Thai soups and broths.
And so on the week before its release, I thought I’d share the Introduction to the book where I explain why I wrote a book about Thai soups.
It’s not just because I love Thai food. It’s also because Thai soups can help a lot of people. In particular, MY PEOPLE.
And that’s really who I wrote this book for.
To explain, here’s the Introduction to my new book, with some pics of the various recipes you’ll find inside:
Life can be delightfully serendipitous sometimes. I never would’ve thought that my first trip to Thailand seventeen years ago would lead to a book on Thai soups. Food was not the intention of my trip. But it’s hard not to fall in love with Thai food when you’re in Thailand.
Especially the soups.
Because, unlike in America, soups are an everyday part of Thai cuisine – including breakfast. They’re such an integral part of the fabric of life that it’s hard to miss them. You see them on the streets, in people’s homes, markets, cafes, restaurants and even in the Buddhist monasteries.
During that first trip I didn’t know or even care about their health benefits. All I knew was that they tasted amazing. It wasn’t until years later, when I became a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, that I learned about the healing power of real broths and soups. I looked back on my travels and all the incredible traditional soups I had with a newfound understanding. And so when I returned to Thailand years later, I was ready. Everywhere I went, I ate as many different types of soups that I could, observed how they were made, photographed them, asked questions, took notes and even signed up for cooking classes.
And so I’ve written this book with two types of people in mind. First and foremost, I’ve written this book for my people. I started realizing that there was this tremendous untapped potential of Thai soups to help my people. Because my people need a lot of help in more ways than one.
Who are my people?
My people live in the suburbs and cities of America. This is where I’m from (Long Island to be exact). My people are crazy busy these days. They’re mothers and fathers, students, single folks, husbands and wives and they have jobs and kids and mortgages, school loans and car payments.
And they don’t have a lot of time to cook.
Even worse, many don’t know how to cook. The craziness of modern life has cut the cord of connection to our cooking traditions. Most of my people, including me, have grown up on sugary breakfast cereal, bologna sandwiches, frozen pizza, fast food and all manner of processed junk food. As a result, millions are struggling with chronic health conditions and looking for answers. The good news is that more and more of my people are waking up and realizing how toxic our food system has become. More are becoming interested in learning not just how to cook but how to cook healthy, nutrient-dense food, the way our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to.
In a strange way, Thai soups can offer a lot of help to my people.
Probably the biggest reason Thai soups can help my people is that they are so very healthy and healing to the body. All of these recipes in this book are gluten- and dairy-free with all sorts of anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and seasonings. In the coming chapters I’ll explain a little more about these foods’ incredible health benefits.
Of course, you wouldn’t realize that Thai food can be nutritious from from eating in most American Thai restaurants – these establishments may give you the impression that all Thai people eat is pad thai, greasy fried rice and overly sweet and heavy coconut curries.
This may be shocking to hear but there are NO coconut curries in this book! Now, I love a good coconut curry as much as anyone, but please understand, they’re really not soups. They’re more of a rich, coconut milk-based stew. Furthermore, most coconut curries are made with commercial curry pastes that are full of chemicals, preservatives and artificial flavorings that lack the wonderful aromas and flavors of a freshly made curry paste.
In this book, fresh ingredients – with their healing properties intact – will be emphasized. And while you could certainly learn to make your own curry paste, it’s a very complicated, time-intensive process. I’d wager that 99 percent of my people don’t want to spend an hour in their kitchen pounding a bunch of spices into a paste with a mortar and pestle.
Unlike coconut curries, the recipes here are mostly broth-based, as broths are an essential foundation of any healthy soup recipe, be it from Thailand, or another country.
They’re also a key part of the health protocols I utilize with clients, especially those with digestive health issues. You’ll learn about the health benefits of bone broths shortly – they’re also ridiculously easy to make.
A lot of Thai cuisine can be very time-consuming with many in-depth, highly refined and specific techniques. Like making a curry paste. Or carving vegetables into flower shapes. (Seriously, that’s a big thing in Thailand.) But broth-based Thai soups are perhaps one of the simpler aspects of Thai cuisine, and I’ve purposefully chosen recipes that are not overly complicated. Some may involve a little more time than others but there’s nothing here that any home cook couldn’t easily make.
Generally speaking, my people don’t love hot and spicy food. Well contrary to popular belief, not all Thai food is spicy, including the soups. In fact, there are even native Thai people who don’t like spicy foods. Many Thai soups are completely devoid of the intense heat of chiles. Of course, some do contain them. But here’s the key: Thai soups are always customizable to each individual’s tastes. If you don’t like hot and spicy, it’s not a problem. If you do like spicy, it’s also not a problem. The recipes in this book that utilize chiles can be altered to your personal liking either by including more chiles, fewer chiles, or no chiles at all.
Thanks to the popularity of Thai cuisine in America, all of the ingredients in this book are relatively easy to source and access. There also no exotic ingredients or anything that might shock you. I know my people can be squeamish with things like organ meats so I don’t include them.
Nor are there recipes that my people may find bizarre, like snakehead fish soup (though it is tasty) or even one of my favorite Thai soups, boat noodles, which includes beef or pork blood. For better or worse, the overwhelming majority of my people are just not going to use animal blood. (I can just imagine someone going to their local supermarket and asking some teenage clerk what aisle the beef blood is in. If you want a good laugh, give it a try.)
The second type of person I wrote this book for should be pretty obvious: anyone who has a love and enthusiasm for Thai food! In particular, those that would like to learn more about Thai food in the form of Thai soups. Because unless they’ve been to Thailand, most of my people can only name two Thai soups: tom yum and tom kha.
Outside of Thailand’s two most famous soups, very few Thai soups make it to the menus of Thai restaurants in the West. If a trip to Thailand is not on you agenda anytime soon, this book will be your next best option for discovering this relatively unknown aspect of Thai cuisine.
In a unique way, this book combines my years of travel, the passion for Asian broths and soups that came out of those travels, and my study as nutritional therapist to create soups that support health and wellness. In time, I hope this book leads to more books on the broths and soups from other Asian countries. Time will tell if I can make that happen. In the meantime, I look forward to expanding your knowledge and love of Thai cuisine – and helping you live a healthier life.
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.