Easy Hot and Sour Thai Shrimp Soup

This pungent, sour, flavorful soup is about the best thing ever on a chilly day. The classic recipe calls for quite a few ingredients; we've simplified our version in an effort to make this quick and easy to prepare. If you'd rather omit the shrimp, fried pieces of firm tofu also work well in this recipe. This recipe makes 2 servings but can easily be doubled.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes

3 large stalks fresh lemongrass, ends trimmed and smashed with a meat mallet or heavy knife
4 cups chicken stock
1 small white onion, chopped
12 fresh Kaffir lime leaves, or juice from 3 fresh limes
1 cup canned straw mushrooms, drained
2-4 tablespoons roasted Thai chili paste
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
4-6 Thai chiles, stemmed and with a meat mallet or heavy knife
3 scallions, cut into 1" pieces

Heat a stock pot to medium-high; add oil and onions. Cook onions for 5 minutes, or until they become fragrant and translucent. Add stock and bring to a boil; add lemongrass stalks and 6 lime leaves (or the lime juice). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove and discard lemongrass and lime leaves and increase heat to high. Stir in mushrooms and chili paste; boil for 1 minute. Add shrimp and fish sauce and cook until shrimp are just cooked through, about 45 seconds. Combine remaining lime leaves with chiles, scallions, and lime juice in a serving bowl. Pour soup into serving bowl, stir, and serve with steamed rice, if you like.