Sour Beef Soup

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5 star Avg. rating 5 from 2 votes.

Recipe Information

Recipe Created By: Kathy Przywara


1 stalk lemon grass (see below for alternative)
2 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
5 cups water
1 lb beef, sliced thin across the grain
1 head garlic, minced
1 lg shallot or small onion
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp shrimp or anchovy paste (optional)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 pkg or can sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp tamarind extract (see below for alternatives)
1 bunch green onions, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp salt or to taste
to taste crushed red pepper or chili garlic paste (optional)
lemon wedges (optional)
cilantro, chopped (optional)
2 cups rice, cooked according to pkg directions


Cut lemon grass into 4 inch lengths. Combine with sliced ginger and water in a small soup pot. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add sliced beef, garlic, shallot or onion, turmeric, shrimp or anchovy paste if using, and soy sauce. Add bamboo shoots if using. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add tamarind extract and green onion if using and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove and discard lemon grass and ginger. If soup is too thick, add more water. Season to taste with salt and red pepper. For a non-spicy soup, the red pepper can be omitted or passed as an addition for each diner to add to taste.

To serve:

Put about 1/2 cup of cooked rice in the bottom of a good sized soup bowl. Ladle soup and meat on top. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro if desired.


This is a yummy soup that is salty and sour and can be made as spicy or mild as you like. It is based on a recipe for a Cambodian soup. With the addition of rice, this is a rich and filling meal.

Copyright © 2008 Kathy Przywara. All rights reserved. The copyright of this recipe is retained by the original recipe creator. If you would like to publish this recipe elsewhere in print or online, please contact us to find out how to obtain permission.


The lemon grass stalk can be replaced with the yellow peel of 1 lemon. Peel carefully to only get the yellow and not any of the bitter white pith below.

I usually use London Broil for this and slice it thinly across the grain. You want a cut that will cook quickly and be tender.

If avoiding fish and/or shellfish, omit shrimp or anchovy paste. This will not greatly effect the flavor.

I use Tamicon tamarind extract found in Indian, Asian and Latino markets. You can use 4-5 whole tamarind pods, shelled, or the equivalent in processed pulp. Drop into the soup at the same point in the recipe, but remove the hard seeds and fibrous pulp before serving. The tamarind gives the soup its tangy, sour flavor. It can be replaced with the juice of 1 lemon. This will have a slightly different flavor, but is still quite yummy. Tamarind is a legume.

I’m sure the soy sauce could be omitted or replaced with something, but I have not tinkered with that see what would work well. My best suggestion would be a little balsamic vinegar and more salt. If you need to avoid wheat or gluten, there are gluten-free soy or tamari sauces.

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