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Vietnamese Sour Soup in a bowl.
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5 from 4 votes

Vietnamese Sour Soup (Canh Chua)

Canh Chua is an iconic Vietnamese Sour Soup, loved for its broth that's sweetened by pineapple and garnished with fresh herbs!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 6
Calories: 566kcal
Author: Jeannette


For The Toppings

  • 2 kg / 2.2 lb fish (we used grouper steaks descaled by the fish monger)
  • 200 g / 0.44 lb pineapple
  • 200 g / 0.44 lb okra
  • 150 g / 0.33 lb bean sprouts
  • 200 g / 0.44 lb elephant ear plant (bạc hà a.k.a. taro stems)
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • cooking oil

For The Soup

  • 2 1/2 L / 10.5 US cup water
  • 3 tbsp tamarind soup base powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 4 1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 6 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • cooking oil


  • Heat up a pot of water and bring it to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, add 3 tbsp oil to a saucepan and brown the garlic on low heat for 5 minutes or until golden. Set aside for later.
  • With the water boiling, season it with the tamarind powder, chicken bouillon powder, sugar and fish sauce. Bring the heat to a simmer as you prepare the fresh ingredients.
  • Chop the pineapple into 4cm (1.6") long chunks.
  • Cut the elephant ear plants into 4cm (1.6") long segments by slicing diagonally.
  • Cut the okra in half using a diagonal slice.
  • Finely chop the rice paddy herb and sawtooth coriander.
  • Heat up a wok on high heat and add 4 tbsp oil in. Lower the heat to medium and brown the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Turn the heat back to high and add the fish steaks in to sear on both sides for 3 minutes each side.
  • Bring the pot of seasoned water back to a boil and pour the fish and garlic in.
  • Add the elephant ear plant, okra, tomatoes and browned garlic to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve as is garnished with fried garlic, rice paddy herb and sawtooth coriander. Pour a small dish of fish sauce to use as a dip!


  • Cook the fresh ingredients just before serving. Aside from the elephant ear plant, all the other toppings will get very soft if cooked for too long. Leave them aside until you're ready to serve.
  • Use a stock. Vegetable or chicken will work well to give the Vietnamese Sour Soup an extra layer of flavor.
  • Source fresh toppings. While canned pineapple is available, anything you can get fresh is going to give this dish its crisp taste.
  • Our family has been using raw sugar for some time now, but you can use any type you like or whichever you have on hand. Just make sure to season to taste.
  • We used fresh pineapple, but you can use the canned versions as well. To use, drain the liquid first.
  • All the herbs and vegetables and be found at Asian supermarkets in the fresh produce section. Some will be packaged in plastic (i.e. the bean sprouts) while some will be bundled up with rubber bands.


Calories: 566kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 103g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 250mg | Sodium: 2015mg | Potassium: 1757mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 266IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 4mg