Hot and Sour Soup – Thai style

The winter this year, has possibly been the coldest I have ever experienced. When our freezer feels warmer than what it is outside, its not fun and we have been in this deep freeze for quite a few weeks now. The one thing that keeps our hearts warm in this cold, is a hot heart warming soup.

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I love making hot and sour soups, and its different every time as I tend to use up what I have in the fridge to make soups. I found some fresh Thai basil at the grocery shop and it had to be a sign that it was time to buy some extra firm tofu to make our favourite soup.

I’m a firm believer that cooking comes from the heart and no matter how accurately you follow a recipe, until you really ‘feel’ what you are cooking, it doesn’t taste the same. Soup is one of those things for me, where more than measurements, I eye ball and add ingredients. If you think about the flavour you want to achieve, it is easy to balance the ingredients to create what you desire.

My secret is to line up all the ingredients on the counter and chop up everything I need. I like my hot and sour soup to be spicy, with lots of ginger and with a nice little sour kick that tantalizes your flavour buds at the back of our throat.

This version is non-traditional, as this is my version of how I like to make it.

2 inch piece of ginger, cut into julienne strips
4-6 Thai chillies – finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
Thai Fish sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
Corn starch mixed with cold water to make a paste
Sriracha Sauce
Extra firm Tofu, cut into small cubes
10-15 giant shrimp, roughly chopped
2-3 cups Chinese cabbage, shredded
Chicken stock or Vegetarian Stock
Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
Thai basil for garnish
3 tbsp Tom yum paste
1 tsp lemon grass paste

Heat the oil in a pot, saute the ginger, shallots and thai chillies until the shallots have softened and turned slightly golden.

Save the shrimp, tofu and corn starch, but add all the remaining ingredients together into the pot along with some salt and black pepper. Cover the lid and let the soup cook for about 20 minutes.

Add the shrimp and tofu and continue cooking for a few more minutes before adding the corn starch paste. Stir for a couple of minutes as the soup thickens with the corn starch and its ready to be served, garnished with some fresh Thai basil leaves.

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For me, its hard to replace the flavour of fresh Thai Basil in this soup and its not the same without the lemon grass paste either. If you have access to fresh lemon grass, please use that instead of the paste. I like to keep a tube of lemon grass paste in my fridge for Thai emergencies likes this.

This soup packs a nice little kick on its own, so you don’t need much with it and for me, its the perfect heart warmer for when I get a cold.


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