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Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns

This light and flavoursome soup really has the wow factor – but the wonderful reality is that it’s amazingly easy to make. If you fancy a change from prawns, try using sliced chicken or tofu instead.

MAKES 4 adult portions PREPARATION TIME 10 minutes COOKING TIME 8 minutes

200g/7oz raw, peeled tiger prawns 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
11⁄2 tsp caster sugar
100g/31⁄2oz vermicelli rice noodles 1l/35fl oz/4 cups vegetable stock
2 lemongrass stalks
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1⁄4 tsp chilli paste
100g/31⁄2oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
100g/31⁄2oz baby plum tomatoes, halved 4 spring onions, finely sliced
Juice of 11⁄2 limes
3 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
A few coriander leaves, for sprinkling

1 Put the prawns in a small bowl and stir in the salt and 1⁄2 tsp of the caster sugar. This will really bring out their flavour. Break the noodles into about 5cm/2in long pieces and soak them in hot water for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain. (You can get all the ingredients ready and prepare the recipe to this point, then put it in the fridge so you can do the last-minute cooking just before serving.)

2 Meanwhile, heat the stock in a wok or large saucepan over a medium heat. Bash the ends of the lemongrass to help release their delicious flavour, then add to the pan with the fish sauce, chilli paste and remaining sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

3 Drain the noodles and add to the wok along with the prawns, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, spring onions, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the prawns are cooked through (they will have turned pink). Have a taste. If the soup could do with being slightly more spicy, add a little more chilli paste; if it’s a little too hot, add some sugar and a squeeze of lime.

4 Serve sprinkled with a few coriander leaves.

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