Soup Phak

Thai Vegetable Soup

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Light soups such as this vegetable soup are often served in accompaniment to rich, heavy meals, as the Thais believe that they temper the heat from spicy dishes and cleanse the palate at the same time. Whatever the reason, it’s a good way to enjoy vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, ends trimmed and bruised
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into short lengths
  • 4 bird’s eye chillies
  • 500 g sponge gourd, peeled and cut into short lengths
  • 150 g fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 8 baby corn cobs, cut into short lengths
  • 2 sprigs Thai sweet basil (bai horapa), leaves plucked
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon crisp-fried shallots

Spice Paste

  • 10 white peppercorns
  • 2.5-cm piece dried prawn paste (gapi)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 150 g dried prawns, soaked and drained

Chicken Stock

  • 6 cups (1.5 litres) water
  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) chicken bones
  • 40 g (1⅓ oz) shallots, peeled and crushed
  • 20 g ( oz) coriander roots, crushed
  • 5 white peppercorns

Method

  1. Prepare the chicken stock. Place all the ingredients in a stockpot and bring to the boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock and use as needed.
  2. Prepare the spice paste. Using a mortar and pestle or blender, pound or process the ingredients into a fine paste.
  3. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a pot. Add the spice paste and lemongrass. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the fish sauce, carrot and bird’s eye chillies and bring to a boil. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the sponge gourd, mushrooms and baby corn. Boil for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the basil leaves and season with salt.
  7. Dish out and garnish with crisp-fried shallots. Serve hot with rice and other dishes.