Cold buster: My Hot and Sour Chicken soup

My ver­sion of the Asian Hot and Sour soup but with more fire to blast away any nig­gling cold. It worked for me anyway.

This recipe is all about get­ting the right com­bi­na­tion of the lemon, fish sauce, vine­gar and sugar just right so a lit­tle exper­i­men­ta­tion might be called for. It’ll feed two as a main rather well.


  • Two chicken breasts — skinned and diced
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 12 oz new potatoes
  • 2 pak choi — leaves separated
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 tsp Szech­wan pep­per corns — crushed
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 red Thai chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch gin­ger, finely sliced (to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 pint of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp veg­etable oil
  • Salt to season

Mari­nade the chicken breasts in the onion, oil and lemon juice for at least an hour.
Add the saf­fron to a dash of boil­ing water and let infuse for 10 min­utes or so.

Remove the chicken and in a heavy-based saucepan sweat the onion, oil and lemon mari­nade over a medium/low heat until trans­par­ent, do not brown. Intro­duce the gar­lic, gin­ger and chilli and cook for a minute or two. Add the chicken, the saf­fron infu­sion and pep­per and cook until the chicken is barely coloured. Add the chicken stock, then the rice vine­gar, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down so there is only the very slight­est of bubbles.

Check for bal­ance — add more lemon, fish sauce, vine­gar, sugar or salt if nec­es­sary. Remem­ber the stock will reduce and inten­sify the flavour whilst cook­ing. Cook for 1–2 hours — we’re aim­ing for the chicken to be just begin­ning to fall apart when served. 25 min­utes before serv­ing add the new pota­toes. 5 min­utes before serv­ing at the pak choi to allow them to wilt.

Check for sea­son­ing and serve in warm bowls with the spring onions on top.

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