This isn’t your average deli-style tomato rice soup. It’s brightened up with lemongrass, lime, fresh herbs, and insanely good ramps. If you want the old fashioned tomato rice soup, use Google — you will find lots. What you won’t find lots of is a Vietnamese style tomato rice soup… because I kind of invented it. Yes, there are Vietnamese soups that have a seafood tomato flavor profile, but this one is special because it’s kind of unique. Because who am I kidding, everything that can be done has been done. That’s the plight of our existence. All we can hope for is semi-uniqueness.
Wow, I think I just depressed myself. Pretty sure you aren’t supposed to depress everyone when you write a recipe. Quick! Let’s all think of an adorable baby pug eating this soup.
Good, now I feel better about our plight.
For this soup you should make my Pressure Cooker Lemongrass Shrimp Broth Recipe. Because that’s what I did and it tasted great. It’s also super fast to make. Everything in a pressure cooker is super fast to make. (Why don’t you have one yet?) If you already have some other less cool seafood broth laying around, I suppose you could use that as well.
I wrote this recipe during ramp season which is happening right *now*, but is tragically and painfully short. Ramps are wild leeks and cannot be grown, they must be foraged. They are pungent and garlicky and everyone loves them. As you can imagine, they go like hotcakes. You can replace the ramps with leeks if you missed it, it will still be delicious. But keep in mind, it will be even more delicious if you fight for a handful at the farmers’ market. Is it just me or do ramp people get kinda nuts?
I’ve also made this recipe with rockfish and clams. So shrimp is not a must, but if you made my Lemongrass Shrimp Broth, then you will have plenty of shrimp. You can use any rice you like for this recipe but I recommend jasmine rice. You’ll notice that I don’t cook the rice in the soup. Rice likes to absorb LOTS of liquid, so if you want more of a congee/porridge vibe, cook the rice in the soup. Otherwise, cook it on the side and add it to your bowls right before serving.
Vietnamese Tomato Rice Soup with Shrimp
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 2/3 cup chopped shallots
- 2/3 cup chopped Chinese celery stalks (reserve leafy portion) or use regular celery
- 1 stalk of lemongrass prepped (see notes), then sliced and smashed in mortar and pestle to yield about 1 tablespoon smashed lemongrass
- 3 large cloves garlic smashed into a paste - yield about 1/2 tablespoon
- 1 small jalapeño chopped finely
- 1 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes with their liquid (canned or jarred)
- 2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups warmed Lemongrass Shrimp Broth (or other seafood broth)
- 1 stalk lemongrass prepped (see notes) and bruised but left whole
- 3-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- Salt to taste
- Handful of ramps roughly chopped or one small leek chopped into rounds, approximately 1/4 cup Reserved Chinese celery leaves, roughly chopped
- 1.5 pounds of shrimp
- Handful chopped cilantro
- 3 scallions chopped
- zest of one lime
- Limes and Sriracha for serving
- Cook 1 cup dry rice according to package instructions. Rinse rice well before cooking. Cook in water or broth. While rice is cooking, start the soup.
- Heat lard on medium high until melted and warmed. Add chopped shallots and Chinese celery and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add crushed lemongrass and smashed garlic. Cook about 1 minute while constantly stirring. Let it get very fragrant. Then add finely chopped jalapeño and stir constantly, for another minute.
- Lower heat to medium and add chopped tomato in juices and tomato paste. Stir well, deglazing the pan with a little broth if needed. Cook about 5 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent burning.
- Add warmed broth and bruised whole stalk of lemongrass. Bring to a simmer, then lower to lowest heat setting and cover. Let simmer for 10 mins covered.
- Uncover and add fish sauce, ramps (or leeks), and reserved chopped Chinese celery leaves.Taste and add salt as need. (please see notes) Add shrimp. Once cooked through, add cilantro and scallions.
- Right before serving, add lime zest and stir. Put a healthy dollop of rice in each bowl or serve on the side. Serve with Sriracha and limes.
- We want the tender inner bulb of the lemongrass. Remove root portion and the upper 2/3 of the stalk (that can be saved for making broth). Then peel a few layers off and you are left with the good stuff. Ready to be bruised or thinly sliced.
- If you are using homemade broth, it's essential that you add enough salt. If the soups seems a bit flat, it is usually because you need more salt. SALT.