The soup lends itself well to change and is indeed even more soothing with my addition of don don noodles, ready to eat Japanese noodles. (I mix and match my Asian cuisines shamelessly, I don't know how I get away with it.) Anyway, every soup is better with noodles, in my opinion.
I used homemade shrimp stock, as I had some in the freezer. When I peel shrimp I just save up the peels in the freezer until I have a good little bag full and then put them in the slow cooker with water, sea salt and black peppercorns. A couple of hours later I strain, cool, and freeze. Easy peasy and pretty close to being free.
I know that for some people, nothing feels more restoring than something warm and unchallengingly bland. But when it's succour and sustenance I need, it's spice that I want.
This soup, tom 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, as well: the chicken stock I make out of boiling water and bouillon concentrate, and the tom yam paste is sold now at most supermarkets, along with the other ingredients, too.
1½ litres chicken stock (I used shrimp stock)
2 heaped tbsp tom yam paste
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1 stick lemon grass, tender inner part only, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 small fresh red or green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
150g straw or button mushrooms, halved or quartered according to size
500g peeled raw prawns, thawed if frozen (I used tofu)
5 small spring onions, cut into short lengths and then into strips
Small bunch coriander, chopped
(I added don don noodles)
Method: How to cook hot and sour soup
1. Heat the stock and tom yam paste in a decent sized saucepan with the lime leaves, lemon grass, lime juice, fish sauce, chillies and sugar.
2. Bring to the boil, add the mushrooms and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the prawns and spring onions and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the prawns are cooked but still tender. Sprinkle with a little coriander and put more on the table for people to add themselves as they want.