This recipe starts off as a simple, aromatic broth that can be served as is, but by adding chiles and lime juice, the dish becomes a hot-and-sour soup. As with other Southeast Asian cuisines, such as Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Thai, lemongrass and galangal are often used in aromatic soups. The application of these herbs goes beyond cooking as they are widely used in folk remedies. Both lemongrass and galangal have medicinal properties as antibacterials and tonics to aid indigestion. Recipe from Vietnamese Fusion: Vegetarian Cuisine* by Chat Mingkwan (Book Publishing Co.), reprinted by permission.
Vegetarian Hot-and-Sour Soup
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 3 lemongrass stalks, cut into several 2-inch-long pieces and bruised to slightly split
- 5 pieces thinly sliced galangal or ginger, each piece 2 x 2 inches
- 1/2 lb fresh mushroom of your choice, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, or more to taste
- 3 to 4 red chiles, finely chopped or bruised to lightly split, more or less to taste
- 2 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 1 1/2 inch-long pieces for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Heat a medium pot over medium heat and pour in the oil. Add the shallots and fry for 3–5 minutes, or until light brown and crispy. Do not let them become dark brown or burn, as they will be bitter. Remove the shallots from the oil, and drain on absorbent paper. Set aside for garnish.
- Add the stock, lemongrass, and galangal to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5–6 minutes, or until the stock is infused with lemongrass flavor. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
- Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and chiles. Adjust the seasonings if needed. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with the green onions, cilantro, and fried shallots.
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