Since at least the third century B.C., the Chinese have appreciated a bowl of soup at almost anytime of day, from breakfast to a late-night snack. Other Asian countries have followed suit. Many Asian soups are light and easy to prepare, and are therefore perfect in hot weather.

A hot, but light, summer soup can make a satisfying meal anywhere in the world. Using fresh basil, mint and cilantro from the summer garden makes it even easier to make and better to eat.

A clear broth enlivened with the flavors of fresh herbs, colorful carrots and a few simply-prepared shrimp makes a good summer meal.

Shrimp is America's favorite shellfish. There are hundreds of species from both warm and cold water. They come in many colors and sizes but all change color - to pink or red - when cooked because of a heat-caused chemical reaction. Shrimp are sold according to size. When buying shrimp, keep in mind that they should smell like the sea, not like ammonia.

Deveining shrimp is usually a matter of personal preference. The bigger the shrimp, the more likely the intestinal vein will contain grit and need to be removed.

Shrimp are not as high in cholesterol as was once thought. More importantly, the amount of the total fat is extremely low in shellfish. Shrimp are low in total saturated fat (the kind of fat that raises blood cholesterol) and calories.

The following recipe calls for lemon grass, an important flavoring in Thai cooking and now commonly available at supermarkets. If you can't find fresh lemongrass (do not use dried versions), use the zest of a lemon.

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Asian-Style Shrimp Soup

Makes 6 servings.

  • 3/4 lb uncooked medium-large shrimp
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz.) fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrot, divided
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh lemongrass or 4 wide strips fresh lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 cup small straw mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  1. Peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells. In a large pot, place the broth, shrimp shells with 1 cup carrots, lemongrass (or zest), ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring and skimming surface occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, soak shitake mushrooms in warm water until pliable. Drain, remove stems and cut into bite-size pieces. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise.
  3. Transfer broth to a storage container, cover and chill. (Can be made a day ahead and then covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.)
  4. Strain broth into a large pot, pressing on solids with back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Bring broth, remaining carrots and shitake mushrooms to a simmer. Cook until carrots and mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in shrimp, remaining herbs, pepper, straw mushrooms and lime juice. Cover and let sit until shrimp are opaque (1 to 2 minutes.). Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
110 calories,
1 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
11 g. carbohydrate,
16 g. protein,
2 g. dietary fiber,
759 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Low-Fat Meat, 2 Vegetable

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