The perfect winter warmer- hot and sour prawn Thai soup

I first came across this recipe whilst travelling through Thailand. We had traveled to the North to a place called Chang Mai before planning to cross the border into Laos. Chang Mai is renowned for its food markets, with the food being quite different to what we had experiences in Bangkok or on the Islands. This made it the perfect place to do a cookery class. This soup was one of my favourites, the balance of flavours are incredible, and since London is feeling a bit cold and dreary, this is a great winter warmer. And if I close my eyes, and put the central heating on EXTRRAAA warm, I can kind-of  pretend to be in Thailand.

I tend to buy all my spices from our local Asian supermarket as it is so much cheaper, but for the purposes of this recipe I have worked out the cost based om buying these ingredients from a large supermarket.

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Serves 4

Cost per person £2.00


2 litres of water

2 green chillies, cut in half lengthways

2 inch ginger in slices

1 lemongrass bashed up to release the oils

Handful of coriander with the stalk on

2 kaffir lime leaves ( I buogth these frozen from the local asian supermarkets

300 g of raw frozen head on king prawns

Chicken or fish stock cube

4 tsp of sugar

4 tbl spoons of fish sauce

6 tbl spoons of lime juice

(you can amend the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to suit your taste – just make sure you keep it to a ratio of 1 tsp sugar: 1 tbsp of fish sauce: 1-1.5 of lime juice.

2 spring onion

2 finely sliced of carrots

2 tomatoes

Broccoli stalk (or whatever green veg)

150g Rice noodles – can you buy the pre-cooked straight to wok variety which you can chuck in just before serving , or the uncooked ones which you will need to cook in the soup for the suggested time.


The first thing you need to do is to start the broth.  Remove the heads from all the prawns (I know this can be a bit gross, but it is seriously worth it) and add to a large cold saucepan. To that you need to add the sliced ginger, cleaned coriander stalks, lemongrass, chillies and kafir lime leaves.  Start to heat the pan, stirring he ingredients so they don’t burn, but do brown. When you can start to smell the spices, and when the prawn heads are pink, add a splash of water and give everything a good stir and a bit of a bashing. This will help you get as much juice/ flavour out of the prawn heads as possible. Once you have done this, add the remaining water and a fish stock cube and bring to a boil. Once at temperature, turn down to a gentle simmer, letting those flavours infuse the water. This will simmer away for about 45 mins to really develop the flavours.

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Whilst the water is simmering, start to prepare your vegetables. You can use pretty much anything; mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, carrots but spring onions and tomatoes are a must. For all your other veggies, cut to similar sized so they cook at the same time. On this occasion I had carrots and broccoli stalks which I finely sliced along with the tomatoes, spring onion and coriander leaves. Next, in a cup/ mug prep your lime juice, fish sauce, sugar.

Once the water has been simmering away for about 45 mins give it a taste, it should be fresh and spicy!  At this stage you can use a slated spoon to remove the prawn heads and the herbs, although I don’t tend to bother. Add the veg excluding the spring onions and coriander, and if you have uncooked rice noodles, add them too. After about 2 mins, add the prawns as they will need to cook for about 4 mins. Add the fish sauce/lime and sugar mix. You might want to add half to start with, stir well and taste and see if it needs more, or if needs a pinch of salt. To serve, use some tongs to grab the noodles, veg and prawns and add to the bottom of a bowl, then ladle in the soup. Finally sprinkle the spring onions and coriander on top. Done!

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