One of the reasons this soup is so tasty is the marriage of sugar and spice - bringing together some lovely Southeast Asian flavours with coconut milk for sweetness and chilli for heat.
3 small bird's-eye chillies
4 cloves garlic
a lump of ginger the size of your thumb
2 plump stalks lemongrass
a good handful coriander leaves
a little vegetable oil
500ml/1pt chicken or vegetable stock
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
2 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
the juice of half a lime
200g raw king prawns, frozen
100g/4oz dried noodles, cooked as it says on the packet
a large handful mint leaves
Chop the chillies, removing the seeds if you wish, peel the garlic and ginger and chop roughly. Put them all into a food processor. Discard the outer leaves of the lemongrass and roughly chop the inner leaves. Shred the lime leaves and add them all to the chillies with the coriander stems and half of the leaves. Blitz them to a pulp, adding a little vegetable oil if the mixture needs it to go round.
Place a fairly deep pan over a moderate heat, add half the spice paste (keep the other half in the fridge for tomorrow) and fry it, moving it around the pan so it does not scorch. Do this for a minute or two, then pour in the stock and the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add them to the soup with the fish sauce and lime juice. They will take about seven minutes to cook. Add the prawns - they are cooked when they take on a pink colour. Chop up the remaining coriander leaves and add to the sauce.
Now to serve, put a swirl of noodles in each of four bowls, pour over the sauce and add the chopped mint at the last second for a bit of freshness.
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