Hot and Sour Soup

(recipe, Nigella Lawson)


I know that for some people nothing feels more restoring than something warm and unchallengingly bland, but when it's succor and sustenance I need, it's spice that I want. This soup is easy to throw together; use bouillon for the chicken stock, and buy the tom yam paste at the supermarket.


  1. 6½ cups chicken stock
  2. 1 heaping tablespoon tom yam hot and sour paste
  3. 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped, optional
  4. 1 stick lemongrass, tender inner part only, roughly chopped
  5. Juice of 1 lime
  6. 4 Tbsp. fish sauce (nam pla)
  7. 2 to 3 small jalapeños or fresh red or green chiles, finely chopped
  8. 1 tsp. sugar
  9. 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons straw or button mushrooms, halved or quartered according to size
  10. 1 lb. 2 ounces peeled raw shrimp, thawed if frozen
  11. 5 small scallions, cut into short lengths and then into strips
  12. Small bunch of cilantro, chopped


  1. Heat the stock and tom yam paste in a decent-sized saucepan with the lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and sugar. Bring to a boil, add the mushrooms, and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the shrimp and scallions and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked but still tender. Sprinkle with a little cilantro and put more on the table for people to add themselves as they want.


For a little extra oomph, quickly boil and drain some rice vermicelli; add to the hot soup just before serving.