Spinach and Shrimp Balls Soup (Canh Rau Spinach voi Tom Vien)

The recipe Spinach and Shrimp Balls Soup makes a light and healthy dish your whole family will enjoy. Forget about eating frozen overly processed shrimp balls. (They taste like rubber!) These homemade shrimp balls are easy to make and so scrumptious. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfectly round. They aren’t meant to be in this earthy, hearty soup. If you’d like to use something other than spinach, try another leafy green vegetable like mustard greens. Opo or Italian squash and zucchini work well in this soup too. This soup is a wonderful addition to round out any family meal.

Below are recipes for making a complete Vietnamese meal featuring this soup:

Braised Fish in Clay Pot (Ca Kho To)

Stir Fried Chayote and Beef (Su Su Xao Thit Bo)

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Fish Soup with Dill (Canh Ca Thi La), Sour Soup with Fish (Canh Chua Ca) and Yampi Root/Yam Soup (Canh Khoai Mo).


1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 green onions
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1-15 oz can chicken broth or homemade chicken stock or pork stock
1 3/4 cups water
1-9 oz bag washed and ready to eat spinach
1 Tbsp fish sauce (adjust to taste)


Finely chop a 2-inch section of the green onion tops and set aside in a small bowl. This will be used to garnish the soup just before serving.

Finely mince the remaining green onions and set aside on the cutting board.

Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise. Lightly smash each piece of shrimp with a pestle or meat hammer. (This gives the shrimp texture and will make the balls nice and springy once cooked.) Add the minced onions to the shrimp and finely mince, combining both ingredients together. Season the shrimp with sugar, black pepper and 1 tsp fish sauce. Combine well.

In a medium saucepan, add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a gentle boil over Medium high heat. Scoop out a bit of the shrimp using one spoon and use another spoon to smooth and shape the shrimp into a small ball. Drop the shrimp ball into the broth. Continue until all shrimp balls are made. Work quickly as the shrimp balls cook very quickly. (Note: it should take about 2 minutes to make all the shrimp balls. If you need more time, turn off the heat and make all the shrimp balls. When done, turn the heat back on.) Stir the shrimp balls gently and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Increase heat to High and bring the broth to a boil. Add the spinach and stir into the soup. Add the 1 Tbsp fish sauce. Cook for another 3 minutes.

To serve, ladle soup into a large bowl. Garnish with the chopped green onions and sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Yields: 4 servings

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4 Responses to Spinach and Shrimp Balls Soup (Canh Rau Spinach voi Tom Vien)

  1. Trang Nguyen March 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Dear Trang,
    Thank you for sharing and teaching. Even with this simple recipe you enlightened me. I was delighted to see your way of smashing the shrimp 😉
    Glad I tumbled on your website 😉

    Best Regards & Happy Cooking Trang.

    • Trang March 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      Hi Trang,
      Glad you like the technique. You can also smash the shrimp with the flat end of a knife like my Mom. Thanks for checking out this recipe! Happy Cooking 🙂

  2. Winnie November 5, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    I agree with you, Trang– those frozen shrimp balls always taste rubbery and way too processed. Thanks for this!

    • Trang November 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Hi Winnie, you’re very welcome! Enjoy the recipe.

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