Hot & Sour Soup

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So easy to make, I’ve placed this soup here as it will open up a world of great flavoured boil-together soups that take no time at all. If you want to go the whole hog, try making your own chilli paste. This is similar to a Tom Yum soup, but if you replace the stock with watered-down coconut milk, it’ll be along the lines of a Tom Ka.

Look for balance in this soup — it should be sour, hot, salty and sweet. The sweetness is there to round out the middle palate so that the other flavours can be strong. To make it really sour, just add more lime juice; to make it really hot, add more chilli. This soup is really good for a hangover when loaded with chilli and blisteringly hot — you can adjust the seasoning to suit your tastes.

To keep the taste fresh, make sure you add the lime juice after the soup has stopped boiling.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chilli paste
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into eighths lengthways
  • 2 long red chillies, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
  • 4 wild green chillies, bruised
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, bruised and cut into 4 cm ( inch) lengths
  • 2 slices of galangal, bruised
  • 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) fresh chicken stock
  • 6 green king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined with tails left intact
  • 1 free-range or organic skinless chicken breast, finely sliced across the grain
  • 10 baby green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind water
  • juice of 1 lime

Method

Add the chilli paste, lime leaves, tomatoes, red chillies, wild green chillies, lemongrass and galangal to the stock and bring to the boil. Add the prawns, chicken, green beans, fish sauce and palm sugar, stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the tamarind water and lime juice, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spoon into a large bowl to serve.