Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

When the weather’s at odds with the season, this light, yet comforting, soup hits the spot.

The aromatic Thai-flavoured broth is made of fish stock and coconut milk steeped with ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Sidestripe shrimp, rice noodles, and broccoli make for a soup that’s so heartening, you might even forget it’s raining.

I prepare the vegetables and rice noodles separately so there’s no risk of overcooked vegetables or mushy noodles. Everything but the shrimp can be cooked in advance, making this an ideal company dish, rain or shine.

Note – If your grocer doesn’t carry a full selection of Thai ingredients (lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, etc), you’ll be sure to find them at your favourite Asian market.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound of raw shrimp, shells reserved for the stock
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves minced garlic, about 1 1/2 tsp
2 Tbsp minced ginger, about 1 1/2” chunk
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen)
2 – 12 oz [400 ml] cans coconut milk (regular, not “light”)
2 pieces lemongrass, lower three inches, sliced in half and bruised with the dull-side of a knife
4 kaffir lime leaves, each torn in half
2 cups fish (vegetable or chicken) stock
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
4 ounces rice noodles
3/4 cup blanched vegetables* (broccoli, carrots, or bok choy)
Bunch fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
lime slices, for finishing the soup

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the prawn shells, shallots, garlic, ginger, jalapeño pepper, and curry paste. Stir for about two minutes, being mindful not to burn the mixture. If your coconut milk has separated (with thick cream rising to the top), add only the thick cream to the curry paste mixture. If the coconut milk has not separated, use about ½ cup of the the liquid. Simmer until the oil starts to separate and pools on the surface of the spice mixture.

Add the remaining coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves, stock, fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then strain the mixture into a clean pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional lime or fish sauce, if desired.

Place the rice noodles in boiling water until just softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent overcooking.

Just before serving, bring the soup to a simmer.  Add the prawns and cook just until they’re no longer translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the blanched vegetables and rice noodles to reheat.

Transfer to warmed soup bowls and garnish each serving with cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh lime wedges for guests to add as they wish.

* To blanch vegetables, place them in rapidly boiling, heavily salted water until crisp-tender. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice cold water to retain the colour and prevent overcooking.

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