Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
- 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
- 2 (½-inch) pieces ginger, peeled and smashed
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 serrano chile, cored, seeded, and minced
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups packed spinach leaves, rinsed, dried, tough stems removed, and coarsely chopped
- 1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¾ cup reduced-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Procedures:Soup is a common element in meals across Asia, often with the aromatic elements that I’ve included here: ginger, lime, coconut milk, and lemongrass. Asian cooks would more likely use water spinach, which has narrower leaves and hollow stems, but its distant cousin, our common spinach, works well too. For a heartier soup you can add a couple of tablespoons of cooked white rice or diced silky tofu to each bowl just before serving.
Smashing the lemongrass tenderizes the tough stalk and brings out its aromatic character. To do so, I lay the broad side of a cleaver over the lemongrass and smash it hard with my fist. You can also smash it with the bottom of a small heavy skillet.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chile and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until aromatic and tender but not browned.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 10 minutes (the broth should not boil vigorously, decrease the heat to medium-low if needed). Add the spinach and shrimp and simmer 5 minutes, until the shrimp are evenly pink and just cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon or tongs to lift out and discard the lemongrass and ginger. Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice with soy sauce to taste. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the chives.