Hot and Sour Soup

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I know that for some people nothing feels more restoring than something warm and unchallengingly bland, but when it’s succor and sustenance I need, it’s spice that I want. This soup, torn yam—the culinary equivalent of Friar’s Balsam—clears the tubes and brings fire to the jaded soul. And there’s nothing like a bit of searing heat to push away any hungover seediness. It’s good for those days when you’re thick with cold, too. It’s easy to throw together: the chicken stock I make out of boiling water and bouillon granules, and the torn yam hot and sour paste is sold now at most supermarkets, along with the other ingredients, too.




Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

Recipe Courseappetizer, hot appetizer, main course

Mealdinner, lunch


Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, tart

Type of Dishhot soup, soup


  • 6½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 heaping tablespoon torn yam hot and sour paste
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped, optional
  • 1 stick lemongrass, tender inner part only, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2–3 small jalapenos or fresh red or green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons straw or button mushrooms, halved or quartered according to size
  • 1 pound 2 ounces peeled raw shrimp, thawed if frozen
  • 5 small scallions, cut into short lengths and then into strips
  • Small bunch cilantro, chopped


Heat the stock and torn yam paste in a decent-sized saucepan with the lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, chillies and sugar. Bring to the boil, add the mushrooms and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the shrimp and scallions and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked but still tender. Sprinkle with a little cilantro and put more on the table for people to add themselves as they want.



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