I love creating dishes on the fly. When I have various ingredients in small amounts, I always feel challenged to cook them together in such a way that no one will ever guess that my creation is really more of an attempt to salvage bits and pieces.
That’s how this soup came to be. I had half a bag of spinach, half a tub of shelled shrimps, two eryngii (king trumpet) mushrooms, shallots, garlic and tomatoes. A quick trip to the garden yielded ginger and two thin stalks of lemongrass. And I knew I had enough to make a soup for four people.
Yes, the flavor profile is decidedly Asian. Southeast Asian, in fact. Combine ginger with lemongrass to make a base for soup, and you get something that’s reminiscent of tom yum but without a lot of heat and with no sour notes.
I started by sauteeing the shallots, ginger, garlic and lemongrass with a bit of fish sauce. I took my sweet time and waited for them to soften and caramelize lightly before throwing in sliced tomatoes and eryngii. The sauteeing continued until the tomato slices just started to soften.
I poured in broth, waited until it was boiling gently before stirring in chopped spinach and shelled shrimps. The soup didn’t take long to cook from this point. Shrimps don’t benefit from overcooking (they do turn tough and rubbery when overdone) and spinach needs just a few minutes to cook through.
Once the shrimps lost their raw appearance and the spinach was wilted, I turned the heat off. I tasted the broth, added more fish sauce to balance the flavors, and my shrimp, mushroom and spinach soup was ready to be served.
Shrimp, mushroom and spinach soup
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 two-inch knob ginger sliced thinly
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and lightly pounded
- 2 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
- fish sauce
- 2 tomatoes halved and sliced
- 2 eryngii mushrooms sliced (I had about two cups after slicing)
- 6 cups broth (vegetable broth or shrimp broth will both work)
- 4 cups spinach (cut them up if rather large)
- 24 shrimps peeled and deveined
- Set the stove to medium and heat the cooking oil in a large pot.
- Saute the shallots, ginger, garlic and lemongrass with a tablespoon of fish sauce until the vegetables soften.
- Add the tomato and eryngii slices, and continue sauteeing just until the tomato slices start to soften.
- Pour in the broth and allow to boil.
- Stir in the spinach and shrimps, wait until the broth is boiling once more, then set the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for five minutes.
- Taste and add more fish sauce, if needed, before serving.