Curried Prawn Soup

Prawns have a relatively robust and distinctive taste and can therefore stand up well against an assertive sauce or, in this case, curry. The aromas of this soup excite the appetite immediately; the taste comforts the palate and brings joy to the soul. This soup will become a standard item in your home menu.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) raw prawns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 4 dried chillies
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded fresh galangal root or ginger
  • 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) homemade fish or chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Method

Peel the prawns and discard the shells. Using a small sharp knife, remove the fine digestive cord. Wash the prawns in cold water with the salt, then rinse well and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Peel the lemongrass stalks to the tender whitish centre and crush with flat of a knife. Cut into 7.5 cm (3 in) pieces. Soak the chillies in warm water for 10 minutes. In a blender or food processor, combine the lemongrass, chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lime leaves, shrimp paste, cumin seeds and coriander and process or blend to a paste. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, add the curry paste and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Now add the prawns, fish sauce and sugar. Cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Ladle into a large soup tureen or individual bowls and serve immediately.

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