Fragrant Soup with Noodles

Featured Article, Food and Travel, International Food
on August 17, 2011
Cambodian Noodle Soup
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

Sunday was always soup day in my house. No matter how humid or hot the weather, my father insisted on it. Kway'teo, a rice noodle soup complete with ground pork and dried shrimp, was the kind of comfort food that reminded him of his childhood in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

When we moved back to France, and eventually came to the United Stated in 1978, my father continued to cherish this recipe, and my mother cooked it every Sunday. And while my mother didn't mind preparing the soup during the cooler months of the year, she admits to it being rather challenging during the hot summer months. Recalling the years we lived in Phnom Penh, my mother started serving the soup in a "dry" version, which meant that the broth would be served separately in a small rice bowl on the side for sipping. My father enjoyed his noodles wet or dry and would switch between the two versions depending on his mood.

Some of the ingredients may have changed a bit over the years. For example, the Thai basil is often replaced with the more readily available cilantro, and the dried shrimp is sometimes replaced with fresh shrimp. Still my family's kway'teo is as fragrant as ever, perhaps for all the wonderful childhood memories my father has shared with us at the table.
—By Corinne Trang