Kaeng Lieng (Thai Vegetable Soup With Shrimp)

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4
A bowl filled with vegetable and shrimp soup
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)
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With orange carrots and kabocha squash, green zucchini and chayote, yellow baby corn, fat white shrimp and handfuls of spinach and lemon basil, this is an eye-catching, colorful, leafy soup. It’s so nourishing that it is sometimes recommended to nursing mothers in Thailand.

You can find flavor packets for the soup in Thai markets, such as Silom in Hollywood. But in this version of the soup, which has been adapted from several different online recipes, the curry paste is made from scratch with shrimp powder and shrimp paste, the latter an umami source so intense it strays into funk.

Fingerroot, also called grachai, is similar to but not the same as ginger. It is typically used in this soup but it is hard to find. The soup is still delicious and very nourishing without it.

From the story: The ‘soup for dinner’ life: It’s easy, delicious. A never-boring way to slim down


Kaeng Lieng

Curry Paste
Lime-Chile Sauce (for serving)

Make the curry paste: Grind peppercorns, shallots, 1 sliced Thai chile, optional fingerroot, shrimp paste and shrimp powder in a mortar and pestle or in a mini food processor, adding a little broth if needed, until a paste forms.


Make the lime-chile sauce: Stir together lime juice, fish sauce and sliced chiles. Set aside for serving.


Make the soup: Heat broth in a soup pot to a low boil. Dissolve the curry paste in the broth, tasting as you go. Add kabocha squash, bring to a boil again, then turn down heat and simmer for 4 minutes.


Add mushrooms, chayote, zucchini, carrots and baby corn, bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked, 3 to 4 minutes.


Add shrimp and cook until shrimp is opaque, 30 seconds to a minute. Turn off heat and add the basil, dill and spinach. Add 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more to taste.


Serve soup with jasmine or sticky rice, along with the lime-chile sauce, which each diner may add to taste.