Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup….some of the tastiest ingredients in one bowl and even better, it was from Cooking Light Magazine  which always has some of my favorite recipes.  As many of you know, Cooking Light is a part of a group of magazines featured on a website called myrecipes.com.  I get daily recipe emails from this site and this one from the January 2013 issue caught my eye.  I knew this one would be a good one!

Unfortunately, this recipe is truly one of the reasons that I started doing this blog…thinking you are going to have an amazing dinner, you shop, you plan, you prep, you cook and it  just turns out:  so, so.  For the home cook that looks forward to that family dinner in the evening, it can be a frustrating experience.  This was one of those occasions so read on…..

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup courtesy of Cooking Light/Jan 2013
Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup courtesy of Cooking Light/Jan 2013


  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Siriracha sauce (my addition to kick up the heat)
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushroom caps, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms (my addition because hubby is a mushroom lover)
  • 1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined $
  • 4 ounces uncooked flat rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 12 small fresh basil leaves
  • 4 lime wedges

Combine first 12 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups (about 12 minutes).   (Note:  This is where I made a change in how the recipe was prepared.  Since I was making the broth about an hour before dinner, I turned the heat off after I reached the 12 minute simmer.  I added the sprouts to give them a little steam and so the flavor of the broth had time to disperse into the vegetables.  I am so glad I did this because otherwise the soup would have been even more bland than it was)

Broth turned off on the stove with mushrooms and sprouts added to absorb flavor
Broth turned off on the stove with mushrooms and sprouts added to absorb flavor

Add shrimp; cook 4 minutes or until done. Remove cinnamon, anise, and ginger; discard. Cook rice noodles according to package directions; drain. (Note:  I actually cooked my noodles when I heated my broth back up) Place 1/2 cup noodles in each of 4 bowls. (Note: Instead of dividing the noodles into the bowls, I just added them directly to the pot and mixing well with other ingredients.) 

Broth  with rice noodles added
Broth with rice noodles added

Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle evenly with bean sprouts (remember, I added those earlier), green onions, cilantro, and basil. Serve with lime wedges.

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup served with Vegetable Dumplings
Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup served with Vegetable Dumplings

Bottom Line:  What was touted as “filled with bold and exotic flavors”, fell…FLAT!  While the shrimp , vegetables, and noodles were cooked perfectly, the broth had no depth and and was very bland.  Adding the siriracha did add some extra heat, but it couldn’t help fix the missing component:  flavor.  Sure, we ate every bite but if you consider the shrimp (which can be expensive) and the star anise (which can be difficult to find), this recipe would leave the home cook feeling disappointed 😦


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