DINNER IN 25 MINUTES

Gingered Chicken and Coconut Soup

(2 to 4 servings)

You want to cook Thai but have trouble tracking down the ingredients?

Authentic Thai dtom khaa gai includes coriander root, galangal, coconut cream, bird's eye pepper, palm sugar and kaffir lime leaves. So we substituted some more readily available items. The resulting soup is just slightly less rich and soothing than the original.

You may use shrimp or additional mushrooms instead of the chicken.

Adapted from "Thai Food" by David Thompson (Ten Speed Press, 2002).

2 cups chicken stock or broth

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon palm or brown sugar

2 stalks lemon grass, ends trimmed, stalks bruised

1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 to 3 Thai, serrano or jalapeno chili peppers, bruised

10 slices ginger root

1/2 tablespoon shredded or julienned lime zest

3 to 4 ounces chanterelle, oyster or shiitake mushrooms caps, torn or sliced

3 ounces skinless chicken breast or thigh fillets, sliced thinly

About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

In a pan over medium-high heat, bring the stock and coconut milk to a boil. Season with salt and sugar and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon grass, shallot, chili peppers, ginger and lime zest and simmer for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and chicken, and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add some lime juice and fish sauce to taste along with the cilantro and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly; the soup should taste rich, salty, sour and hot. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 4, using 1 tablespoon fish sauce): 406 calories, 11 gm protein, 15 gm carbohydrates, 37 gm fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 32 gm saturated fat, 511 mg sodium, 4 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

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Robert Lambert syrups and pickled fruits cost about $9.95 per jar. Some flavors are available at Dean & DeLuca (3276 M St. NW; call 202-342-2500). Also available by mail-order for $9.95 from the Grateful Palate (call 888-472-5283 or see www.gratefulpalate.com).

The Inn Crowd

When it opened on Jan. 28, 1978, The Inn at Little Washington had no liquor license, insufficient electrical power, an outhouse and a staff of three. The roast chicken entree was $4.95, and if you wanted Roquefort dressing on your salad it cost 10 cents extra.

Twenty-five years later, the January 2003 issue of Saveur magazine calls it "the nearest thing to a Michelin three-star restaurant this side of the Atlantic."

The inn, in Washington, Va., will celebrate its anniversary for two nights, Jan. 28 and 29. Each evening's festivities will begin with a cocktail reception in the kitchen followed by a 10-course retrospective dinner featuring outstanding wines from the last quarter century. The events will benefit Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger organization.

Reservations may be made by calling 540-675-3800. The dinner price is $1,978 per couple per evening, inclusive of wines and gratuities.

Today's Tip

The difference between a stock and a broth depends on whom you ask. Essentially, both are the liquid in which meats and sometimes vegetables (or sometimes only vegetables) have been cooked.

According to The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, a broth can be consumed as is, whereas a stock is normally used as an ingredient in another recipe. In The Post's Food section recipes, we consider stock to be homemade although we use the terms interchangeably.

To Do

SATURDAY: Soups, Stocks & Chowder -- cooking class at Equinox Restaurant. $60 excludes tax and tip; includes lunch and wine pairing. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 818 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-331-8118 or see www.equinoxrestaurant.com.

MONDAY-SUNDAY: D.C. Restaurant Week -- specially priced three-course menus at more than 80 local restaurants. Lunch, $20.03; dinner, $30.03. For a full list of participating restaurants and details, see www.washington.org.

TUESDAY: Soup cooking class at Whole Foods Market. Free. 6-7 p.m. 316 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg. Call 301-258-9500.