FOOD: Spicy prawn and lemongrass soup

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There’s nothing that soothes the soul quite like a good soup, especially as the weather starts to cool. This week’s recipe contains the classic Southeast Asian flavour combination of sour, sweet, spicy and salty, which makes this lemongrass and prawn soup an absolute winner. The delightful fragrance that develops throughout the soup is a result of the subtle flavours infusing from the lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal. As these three ingredients are rather tough and chewy, ensure your family or guests know not to eat these, or, alternatively, remove them before serving. Enjoy this taste of Southeast Asia!

PREP TIME:  10 MINS / COOK TIME:  15 MINS

SERVES:  4-5 PEOPLE

INGREDIENTS
6 cups chicken stock (or good-quality fish stock)
3 stalks of lemongrass
1 thumb-sized piece of galangal, sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 small brown onion
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 x 15g pack of coriander (I used Basil Parsley brand)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or use brown sugar)
2 spring onions
200g mushrooms (I actually splashed out and bought the Exotic Medley of mushrooms from Pak’nSave)
1 fresh red chilli (add 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes if the chilli isn’t hot)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (150g-200g)
400g prawn cutlets, tails on
2 tablespoons chilli oil (optional)
20 Vietnamese mint leaves

METHOD
1. Take the lemongrass and, with the end of a knife handle, smash the white end to allow the flavours to release in the soup.

2. Slice the onion in half and peel. Thinly slice and set aside.

3. Cut the stalks off the coriander and crush them in a pestle and mortar (or very finely chop them). Roughly chop the leaves and set both aside, separately.

4. If you’re using button or brown mushrooms, quarter them. If you’re using the Asian ones, like I have, these don’t need to be chopped.

5. Cut the chilli in half length-ways, then thinly slice.  Thinly slice the spring onion.

6. Next, bring the chicken stock to a simmer with the bruised lemongrass, four of the six kaffir lime leaves (screw them up in your hand before you put them in the soup), sliced galangal, ground coriander stalks, fish sauce, palm sugar, half the spring onions, mushrooms, sliced onion and the fresh sliced chilli. Simmer for 10 mins.

7. While this is simmering, take the remaining two kaffir lime leaves and remove the stalks with a sharp knife. Finely slice the leaves across-ways and set aside for garnish.

8. Cut the prawns along the back of the prawn up to the tail, but not the whole way through. Set aside.

9. Add in the tomatoes, lime juice and coconut milk to the soup and bring back to a
simmer. Taste and add a little more fish sauce if you want more flavour. Add in the prawns and half the fresh, chopped coriander.

10. Bring the soup back up to the boil and the prawns should be cooked. Serve evenly
amongst the bowls. Garnish with the leftover spring onion, sliced kaffir lime leaves, Vietnamese mint and coriander. Drizzle with the chilli oil, if using, and serve immediately.

NB:You can cook up some rice noodles to divide evenly amongst the bowls before
pouring over the soup. This will make it a more substantial meal.