The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The ten minute soup challenge: Quick hot and sour vegetable soup recipe

hot and sour soupMy night time dreams have been rich and startling recently. I dreamt that my pond was full of tropical fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Bright pink and yellow scallops hung on the sides as I watched small electric blue fish swim between my toes. I woke in the morning exhausted from this adventure and longing for seafood.

But we’re back on the soup for weekday lunch regime and I needed to make some while I rustled up breakfast. In the winter I’m happy to cook large batches at the weekend, freeze them and pull out a carton each night. Somehow I’m much more picky in summer. I want a freshly made soup every day with zing and flavour.

Then I had a thought, if I could produce large batches of good stock I should be able to add a few simple ingredients, herbs and spices and make a different soup within minutes. The ten minute soup challenge had begun.

The slow cooker was pressed into action and I tossed in some pork bones and vegetables to produce an intense stock. Meanwhile I searched the larder and the internet for ingredients and ideas. Chinese and Vietnamese soup seemed to be made roughly on the same lines of a hot stock with thinly sliced additions of vegetables, meat, noodles and so on.

If the stock was chilled and fat removed, the soup could be virtually fat free. Making a different soup each day would be a great excuse to play with different flavours, have a bit of fun and not spend hours at the stove.

It took ten minutes to prepare and cook our first low fat fast soup. It was packed with fresh vegetables, deliciously spicy and surprisingly filling. If you want a thicker soup, reminicent of Chinese, add cornflower when your stck has reached the simmering stage.

Quick hot and sour vegetable soup recipe (for four hungry people)


  • 500ml of rich pork stock jelly
  • 500ml of water
  • 3 tsp of tamarind paste
  • half to 1 tsp of Thai red chilli paste
  • 1 tsp of Thai fish sauce
  • 4 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 grams of fine green beans topped and tailed and chopped
  • 1 small onion sliced very fine
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of sweet corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 dash of garlic granules
  • Large handful of Chinese ribbon noodles (dried)
  • Cornflower (optional)


  1. Heat up the stock and the water whilst you prepare your vegetables. Add the spices, noodles and vegetables and simmer for a few minutes until the beans have softened but still retain some crunch. Serve in warm bowls.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Belinda

    Great that you are enjoying the blog.

    The plastic cup tip is a great one, thanks.

    Blackberries a weed? This weed makes superb wine!!

  2. Belinda

    Hi, First off I must say I love this blog. Thankyou so much, you are an inspiration. Im headed where you are, just miles behind.

    I made a soup like this just tonight, more of a tom yum style though as I wanted chilli heat, I have a cold.

    I have a tip to share with you. When I make stock in bulk I freeze some of it in plastic cups. (I had them leftover from one of my childrens birthday parties)

    Then when I want a small amount I have it, or if a recipe says 3 cups, well its just too easy.

    PS: I still have some blackberries in the freezer from last March. They are considered a weed here in country New South Wales, Australia.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Gillie

    Once I’m eating soup, I always enjoy it but sandwiches are so tempting! I’ve enjoyed making soup in ten minutes and have several more good recipes up my sleeve now.

    Hi Crescent Moon

    Glad that you enjoyed the blackberry post! Walking in the country eating blackberries is my idea of bliss!

  4. crescent moon

    Hi, Fiona

    Elegant blog! I like the design very much. “The old English legend of the Devil and the blackberries” was very interesting. I enjoyed it. It reminded me of a path in a forest in Eastbourne (I lived there for 2 years as a student about 15 years ago). I ate blackberries as I walked through the path. I think it was before October 11. 🙂

    I miss UK so much. See you!

  5. gillie

    I love soups, you can play around with flavours and mix up unusual ingredients and it almost always still comes out good. I’ll definitely give this one a try.

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