This is an invigorating, spicy Thai soup made with shrimp and oyster mushrooms, and flavored with chili, lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves. It will clear your head (and your sinuses). Galangal is commonly available in Asian markets and many large grocery stores. The cooking process is very quick, so have everything ready to go before you start. Try this with chicken or chunks of firm-fleshed fish, or make it vegetarian by poaching Asian greens, broccoli, beans and pepper in the broth. For the classic red color, swirl in a spoonful of Thai roasted chili paste, nam phrik phao, at the end of cooking.
7 ounces sustainably
sourced raw shrimp 4 1/4 cups boiling water 1 stick of lemongrass,
lightly bruised 1 1/4-inch piece of galangal, coarsely sliced 6 lime leaves, torn into
pieces 1 hot red chili and 1 mild green chili, sliced into rings (seed the red chili and use just half if you don’t like heat) 6 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 teaspoon palm or
brown sugar 1 3/4 ounce oyster mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces 1 tablespoon fish sauce,
or more to taste Juice of 1 lime, or more
To serve: Cilantro
Peel and devein the shrimp and set aside. Pour the boiling water into a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the bruised lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, chili and garlic, and simmer together for about 8 minutes. Bring up to a steady boil, then add the sugar, mushrooms and shrimp. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
Remove from the heat and add the fish sauce and lime juice, then taste and decide if you would like to add more of either.
Ladle the soup into large bowls, leaving behind the lemongrass stalk and as much of the lime leaves, garlic and galangal as you can, as none of these are good to eat. Garnish with the cilantro and eat straightaway. Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course. — From “Leon Happy Soups” by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (Conran Octopus, $19.99)