There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, it's wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers.”
Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)
Yesterday was minus 15 and snowy. Inspired by an old recipe my sister, Haidi, sent me a while back, I whipped up a Vietnamese noodle soup and it turned out to be the perfect antidote to the weather. It’s incredible how a bowl of soup can be the most comforting, soul satisfying thing. With a fully belly of soup and after a one hour massage from Sandra at the Concordia Physio Center, I was about as relaxed and content as can be!
Sometimes creating an Asian style soup can be a daunting task as the list of ingredients is often long and usually requires various exotic, unattainable ingredients. This recipe is different; it’s so easy to make, I had to share it with you. If you haven’t yet tried a recipe from UtHC, this one is a perfect start. Feel free to play around with the vegetables, substituting bak choi or jullienned carrots for bean sprouts or whatever your fancy. Of course, the shrimp can be left out completely if you wish for a vegetarian soup.
Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup
2 teaspoons oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, cut into 3 inch lengths and bruised lightly.
½ lb mushrooms, thinly sliced, button or shitake
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
5 cups water
½ lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and sliced lengthwise in two.
5 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ lb flat rice stick noodles, softened for 30 minutes in warm water and drained
1 ½ cups bean sprouts
½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or ½ teaspoon Thai chili sauce
1 cup diced tofu
½ cup green peas
Wedge of lime
Heat a heavy pot. Add oil and heat. Add shallots and lemongrass and stir fry lightly. Add mushrooms and sugar and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Add fish sauce, noodles, peas and tofu, if using. Bring to a boil again and add shrimp. Simmer 2 minutes more while you call everyone for supper. Discard lemongrass, add bean sprouts and chilies.
Serve immediately. Top with scallions and cilantro and serve with lime wedge.
Note: If you don't serve this soup right away, the rice noodles will absorb most of the broth and you will be left with a tasty (but soggy) noodle dish!