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Asparagus-Shrimp Soup

4 cups chicken stock
8 asparagus spears, cut into one-inch pieces
1/4 cup nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 lb small shrimp, shelled
2 Tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
2 scallions, chopped

In a medium pot, heat chicken stock. Add asparagus, fish sauce, black pepper and sugar, simmer five minutes. Add shrimp. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook until shrimp are opaque and soup thickens slightly. Sprinkle with scallions.

Makes 4 servings.