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Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup

from Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients by Alice Hart
Vietnamese Hot and Sour

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised with a rolling pin
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sieved tamarind pulp or tamarind puree
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 cups vegetable stock or good-quality bought stock
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 tomatoes, cored and sliced into 8 pieces
3/4 cup peeled and cored fresh pineapple, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups okra, thickly sliced
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce or soy sauce
a small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
a small handful of ngo om (rice paddy herb) or Thai basil leaves

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in Alice Hart's
Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients


A vegetarian hot and sour soup is less complex than its fish or meat based counterparts, but what it loses in depth it gains in freshness and clarity. Vegetarian versions of fish sauce are readily available, but a little soy will do nicely instead. Serve this as a starter, part of a Southeast Asian meal, or a stand-alone soup.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the shallots, lemongrass, garlic, tamarind pulp or puree, and sugar. Soften over a lowish heat for 5 minutes - you don't want the veg to color. Now add the vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

Throw in the celery, tomatoes, pineapple, and okra, and simmer for another few minutes. Add the bean sprouts and simmer for 5 minutes more. Shake in the vegetarian fish sauce or soy and taste the soup - you might want to add more tamarind, fish sauce, soy sauce, or sugar to balance the sweet and the sour.

Lastly, stir in the herbs and serve in small warmed bowls.

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