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Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup
Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Soup Photo courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

It’s hard to believe that Charles Phan’s hot-and-sour soup uses less than a dozen ingredients. The celebrated San Francisco chef’s soup is undeniably complex and tastes like a dish that requires both an abundance of time and specialized culinary skills to make. But just like all the recipes that appear in Phan’s definitive new cookbook, Vietnamese Home Cooking, this soup is easily attainable for the average home cook. Try making it first for a restorative post-holiday meal, then revisit the recipe to serve as a starter at a Phan-inspired Vietnamese feast down the road.

Makes 6 servings
Start to Finish: 50 minutes


2½ quarts chicken broth (preferably homemade)

2 ounces seedless tamarind pulp (available at Asian markets)

2 Thai chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ pound medium shrimp--peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise

½ medium pineapple--peeled, cut lengthwise into 6 pieces, core trimmed away and cut crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick slices (about 1½ cups)

3 cups mung bean sprouts

1½ cups shredded iceberg lettuce

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves


1. In a large saucepan set over high heat, combine the broth with the tamarind pulp and chiles and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally to break up the tamarind pulp. Remove the saucepan from the heat, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard the solids. Return the soup to the pot.

2. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and salt to the saucepan and bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp and pineapple and cook until the shrimp just turn pink, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Divide the bean sprouts and lettuce among six soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and garnish with the cilantro. Serve immediately.



Reprinted from "Vietnamese Home Cooking" by Charles Phan. Copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • Add more flavor to the soup by garnishing it with toasted garlic. Here’s how Phan suggests you do it.

  • Ingredient tip: Seedless tamarind pulp comes in a block and can be found at Asian grocers and through online retailers.

  • In place of shredded iceberg lettuce, Phan says you can use bac ha, which is the stem of the taro plant. The celery-like vegetable can be peeled and cut into ⅛-inch-thick rounds.

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