Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My attempt to cure the common cold: hot and sour soup

Cough. Sniff. Splutter.
It's that time of year, isn't it? When everyone you know seems to be falling victim to the dreaded lurgy: the common cold.
It happened to me on Monday. I went to bed feeling fine and woke up to a runny nose, streaming eyes, a sore throat and a headache.

There are many foods I turn to at times of illness but when a cold strikes, I want something spicy and strong. Something that clears my congested head and restores my energy levels. And most importantly, something that doesn't require too much preparation or too much time to cook. In fact, what I want is something exactly like this:

Nigella's Hot and Sour Soup

1 and a half litres of chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaped tbsp tom yam paste (optional)
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 stick lemongrass, tender inner part only, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 small fresh green or red chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
150g straw or button mushrooms, quartered
500g peeled raw prawns
5 small spring onions, cut into strips
Small bunch coriander, chopped

  • Heat the stock and tom yam paste in a saucepan with the lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, chillies and sugar. Bring to the boil.
  • Add mushrooms and simmer for a couple of mins.
  • Add the prawns and spring onions and add for a further 2 to 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked but still tender.
  • Sprinkle with coriander and serve.
This takes less than 15 mins to make, start to finish, and it's my go-to recipe when I'm feeling congested. (In fact, I probably should pass it on to Brian Cowen. I hear he's got a "congestion problem". Ahem.)
By the way, if you want to turn this into a more substantial supper, all you have to do is add some noodles. Slurp your way back to health!

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