Vietnamese Sour Soup
This soup is one of the favorite soup of Vietnamese people in southern Vietnam. The sour taste of the tamarind combined with the sweet pineapple balanced with the shrimp and fresh vegetable.
- 1 elephant ear stem, cut into ½ inch slices on an angel (if not easily accessible, substitute with 3 – 5 stalks of celery sliced)
- 5 cup of bean sprouts
- 8 – 10 sprigs of rice paddy herb, roughly chopped with stems
- 2 large ripe vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups of fresh ripe pineapple chunks
- 100g large shrimp with shell
- 800ml chicken broth
- 200g tamarind paste
- 6 cup of water
- 65g Chinese solid brown sugar
- fish sauce or salt to taste
- fried shallots
Step 1: Prepare the tamarind soup base by dissolving the tamarind pulp in 3 ½ cups of hot water in a pot. Heat the mixture on medium high heat for 8 – 10 minutes, breaking down the tamarind with a spoon or folk while its is heating. Once dissolved, the tamarind will turn into a thick dark paste. With a sieve, strain the seed and pulp to extract the tamarind water. Use a spoon to press the pulp to get more tamarind water.
Step 2: In a large pot, combine 2 cups of the tamarind water, chicken broth and 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the solid brown sugar and mix until completely dissolve. Add the shrimp and let it boil until it is just cooked. Take out the shrimp and set aside so they don’t over cook. Turn off the heat. Your soup base in now ready. At this point, depending on your taste, you may want to add a bit more sour taste. Everyone likes it slightly different.
Step 3: This soup is meant to be enjoyed fresh and you only prepare it when you are read to serve. For 1 individual bowl, in a pot, combine 1 cup of the tamarind soup base, 3 pineapple chunks, 3 tomato chunks, 5 slices if elephant ear stem, and bring the soup to a boil. Add a handful of the bean sprouts, 3 – 4 cooked shrimp and let it boil for another minutes Turn off the heat and pour the soup into a soup bowl. Garnish with rice paddy herbs and fried shallots. Enjoy the soup hot, plain or boiled rice.
Finally for extra flavor, you can prepare a small bowl of fish sauce mixed with sliced red Thai chilies and dip your shrimp into it. If you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute it with white fish or chicken. Do not use beef. It will alter the taste of the soup. Hope you love it. Good luck to your cooking.