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