Aromatic Shrimp and Noodle Medicine Soup

This dish is the perfect medicine on a cold day. The highly seasoned broth aromatizes and lifts the shrimps and noodles to create a pleasantly warming soup.

Makes: 4 servings

Takes: 2 hours 30 minutes

  • BROTH:
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 3 dried chiles de árbol
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 medium shallots, halved through root ends
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 6-inch pieces lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, lightly smashed
  • 1 4-inch piece ginger, peeled, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • PASTE:
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 Fresno chile, chopped
  • 1 3-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, finely chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste with bean oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 12-ounce packages ramen noodles
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 ounces mung bean sprouts
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • Fresh tender herbs (such as Thai basil, cilantro, and/or mint)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chili oil and lime wedges (for serving)


Toast cloves, cardamom, star anise, chiles, cinnamon, and peppercorns in a large pot over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cilantro, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, broth, and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until flavors meld, 1–1 ½ hours. Strain into a large bowl, pressing on solids. Return broth to pot; season with salt and pepper.


Pulse cashews in a food processor until very finely ground. Add shallot, chile, lemongrass, ginger, brown sugar, and shrimp paste; process until smooth. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium and cook paste, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.


Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; rinse under cold water. Bring broth to a simmer, add shrimp, and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Divide noodles among bowls. Add 2 Tbsp. paste to each and ladle broth over; stir to incorporate paste. Top with shrimp, sprouts, scallions, and herbs; season with pepper. Serve with chili oil and lime wedges alongside.

Photo: Alex Lau