As soon as my daughters return from school, we would rush out to our vegetable garden and cut chrysanthemum leaves to make soup for dinner.
Chrysanthemum soup is a common Vietnamese soup that is usually cooked with tenderized beef, pork, or minced shrimps. It's organic, earthy and full of vitamins and minerals.
RECIPE: Canh Tần Ô Nấu Chả Tôm
1/2 lb (21-25 count) Shrimp in Shells
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Green Onion, white parts only
Preparing Chrysanthemum Greens
Chrysanthemum leaves come in small bunches. Cut off the roots and discard. Wash the leaves thoroughly to get rid of dirt. If the leaves are long, cut them into half, otherwise, cook them as is.
Preparing Shrimps Balls
Remove the shells and digestive veins from shrimps. Save the shells for later use. Place shrimps, green onions, garlic powder, black pepper, sugar, and salt in a mini food chopper or a food processor, and process it until finely ground.
Transfer it to a bowl and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Cooking Chrysanthemum Soup
Add water and shrimp shells in a pot and bring to a boil. How much water depends on the amount of greens you put in. Shrimp shells, tails, and even the heads are packed with delicious, sweet, delicate briny flavor.
Once the water is boiling, dip an empty spoon in the boiling water first to help loosen the shrimp paste from the spoon. Scoop each teaspoon of shrimp paste and drop it in the boiling water.
Add chrysanthemum greens, and a tablespoon of fish sauce. Let it cook for no longer than a minute as the delicate leaves cook quite fast. In fact, it can be added to the soup after the heat has already been turned down and allow to steep. The greens might seem a lot in that amount of water but will shrink considerably after a few minutes in the hot water. Season to taste with salt if needed.
Ladle chrysanthemum soup into a serving soup bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of black pepper. Enjoy it along with some steamed rice. Light. Simple. Delicious.
Eat well. Stay hungry.