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Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup (Thai)

1 lb. med. shrimp
2 sticks fresh or 2 Tbsp. dried lemongrass
4 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves or 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 Tbsp. fish sauce or salt to taste
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice or to taste
1 tsp. Thai chili paste (nam prik pow)
15 oz. can straw mushrooms or 12 med. fresh mushrooms
3 fresh hot green chilies
3 Tbsp. cilantro

Wash, peel, de-vein shrimp. Save shells. Wash shrimp again, drain,
pat dry, cover and refrigerate. If using fresh lemongrass, cut
each stick into three 2 inch pieces--starting from rounded bottom
end. Discard straw-like top. Lightly crush the 6 pieces.

In a pan, combine lemongrass, lime leaves, stock, and shrimp shells.
Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain
stock, then add fish sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. Adjust
fish sauce and lime juice to taste. *Add more chili paste for more

Drain straw mushrooms and add to stock. (If using fresh mushrooms,
quarter them and drop in lightly salted boiling water. Boil 1
minute. Drain and add to stock.) **The soup can be prepared to
this point several hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.**

Prepare garnish shortly before serving. Cut green chilies into
fine rounds. Wash and dry cilantro. Just before serving, heat
the soup, when it begins to boil, drop in peeled shrimp. Cook on
medium heat for 2 minutes or just until shrimp turn opaque. Garnish
with chilies and cilantro leaves. Serve hot.


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