Cilantro Cousin: Papalo Hot and Sour Soup

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Photo by Louisa Walwark
Pourleaf comes in two subspecies and is called by more than a dozen common names.

This spicy, clear, low-fat soup is adapted from traditional Thai cooking techniques. This particular version is anything but wimpy. Heat lovers should feel free to increase the amount of ginger or the amount and type of peppers used. 

• 3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed
• 2 bunches scallions
• 6 cups water, or mushroom or other stock
• 1/2 to 1 cup cooked black, white, or kidney beans
• 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
• 1 1/4-inch chunk of fresh gingerroot, peeled and grated
• 2 or 3 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and cut into rings
• 2 tablespoons minced jalapeños
• 1 to 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons fresh chopped broadleaf or poreleaf, or 3 teaspoons dried

1. Cut the lemongrass stalks into the largest size that will fit into the pot. Wrap in a clean cloth and roll with a rolling pin to break down the fibers. Chop the white part of the scallions into small rings; chop the green parts and reserve for garnish.she

2. Combine all but the last two ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the lemongrass stalks. Stir in the sweetener and the poreleaf. Taste; the soup should be strongly pungent, sour, and appropriately salty. Adjust the flavor as required with additional lime juice, sweetener, or tamari.

Louise Gruenberg lives in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She recently won first place in the International Herb Association’s 2000 Book Award Contest for her book, Herbal Home Hints (Rodale, 1999).

Click here main article, Cilantro Cousin: Aromatic Papalo Adds Variety to Gardens and Cooking

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