Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup

3 large stalks fresh lemongrass
4 cups chicken stock
12 fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves
1 cup canned straw mushrooms, drained
2–4 tbsp. roasted Thai chile paste
   (nam prik pao)
8 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1⁄2 tbsp. fish sauce
4–6 Thai chiles, stemmed and smashed with
   side of a knife
3 scallions, cut into 1" lengths
Juice of 1 lime    
2 cups cooked rice (optional)

1. Trim tip and root ends of lemongrass stalks and remove and discard tough outer layer. Using a meat mallet or the side of a knife, smash lemongrass to flatten it; tie stalks into a knot; set aside. Pour stock into a 2-qt. saucepan and bring to a boil. Add lemongrass and half the lime leaves, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove and discard lemongrass and lime leaves and increase heat to high. Stir in mushrooms and chile paste, to taste, and boil for 1 minute; add shrimp and fish sauce and cook until shrimp are just cooked through, about 45 seconds. Combine remaining lime leaves with chiles, scallions, and lime juice in a serving bowl or tureen. Pour soup into serving bowl, stir, and serve with rice, if you like.



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