Lesson I learned this past week: I could never have had a food blog while pregnant. No, no I am NOT pregnant. But how those of you keep up writing and reading about food when you are nauseated is beyond me. A malevolent and fast moving stomach virus hit my family this past week and suffice to say I did not even want to open my blog page to say hey sorry am sick will be back later.
I have never dealt well with nausea. Not being able to eat properly turns my world upside down and makes me extremely irritable. And my standard cure all, a Mexican sopa de lima inspired soup, is no good, as it is full of fibrous goodies like beans and corn. Which is why today, when I finally started to feel better but my kids were still queasy, I went searching in my SE Asian cookbooks for a soup.
This is the Laura was sick and took shortcuts version of a traditional Vietnamese soup. It is close enough that I daresay it qualifies as Vietnamese but there are certainly things I would do differently had I the energy. For example, this soup does not have noodles or rice in it, and so it is usually served with a second dish. But I wanted a one pot meal, so in the noodles went. And hunting down a fresh pineapple? Forget about it! Canned it was. Usually only seafood would be in this soup, but I roasted a chicken to use a carcass for the stock, so I threw the chicken into the pot.
This soup should be sweet, salty, hot and sour. I added the hot to individual bowls in the form of sambal oelek so that my kids’ sensitive tummies would not be bothered by the soup. Had I time and energy, fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint or basil would also be nice in this. I personally think that S.E. Asian clear soups really need homemade stock, but if the only way you will make this is to use commercial, well then use commercial.
1 T vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
2 stalks lemons grass
1 T sugar, to taste
2 T tamarind concentrate (start with 1 and add to taste)
Sambal Oelek Chilli Paste, to taste
2 T fish sauce, to taste
5-6 cups homemade chicken stock
4-5 whole tomatoes, canned or fresh, sliced into quarters (I used my mom’s home canned from last summer)
1 15-oz can pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
Optional garnishes I mostly did not have:
cooked rice noodles
thinly sliced basil leaves
chopped green onions
mung bean sprouts
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or sauce pan. Add the garlic and stir, frying until fragrant and golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onions and toss, sprinkling with a small pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the tamarind (start with 1 tablespoon), sugar and fish sauce, along with the stock. Bring to a boil and taste. Add more tamarind if it needs more sour, more sugar if it needs more sweet, and more fish sauce if it needs more salty. Also add as much sambal oelek as you can take for heat, or wait and add to individual bowls.
Reduce to a simmer and cover, simmering for 10 minutes to allow to the flavors to blend. Add the tomatoes, pineapples and shrimp (and chicken if you have some like I did), and simmer until the shrimp are cooked (will happen quickly so don’t wander off–they are cooked when they are pink/white opaque and curled into a ‘C’). Place noodles if using into bowls and ladle the soup over them. Add the other possible condiments.
Affiliate links have been used in this post to link to items I am discussing.