Recipes / Chantha Nguon’s Sour Chicken-Lime Soup, Village Style (S’gnao Chruok Sach Mouan)

Chantha Nguon’s Sour Chicken-Lime Soup, Village Style (S’gnao Chruok Sach Mouan)

By The Editors

Published May 8, 2024

S’gnao refers to a range of simple, brothy soups—the word means “to boil.” The extremely fresh village chicken soup of my childhood requires a recently chased and slain bird. If you can’t lay hands on one, find a small organic chicken from a nearby farm and cut it into pieces. Grocery-store chicken will also suffice. – Chantha Nguon

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
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As you adjust this soup to taste, try to balance the sour taste of lime, the saltiness of fish sauce, a hint of sweetness, and the heat of chili.

Chantha Nguon shared this recipe when she joined us on Food with Mark Bittman.


Make The Recipe!

Sour Chicken-Lime Soup, Village Style (S’gnao Chruok Sach Mouan)

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Makes 4 servings 1x



  • 1 small whole chicken (about 3 pounds) or 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into thirds and bruised
  • 3 makrut lime leaves
  • Juice of 1 to 2 limes (3 to 5 tablespoons, or to desired sourness)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For serving: Thai basil; handful of culantro (sawtooth herb, or ngò gai; optional); 2 scallions, thinly sliced; Thai red chilies, thinly sliced; lime wedges


  1. Fill a large pot with 10 to 12 cups of water, then add chicken, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Skim foam from the surface.
  2. Remove and set aside the solids, then strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve. Add lime juice, sugar, fish sauce (if using), and salt; adjust to taste.
  3. Pull chicken from bone, arrange individual portions of chicken in medium bowls, and ladle in broth.
  4. Serve as an accompaniment to a protein dish (such as Irresistible Fried Fish, p. 12), or on its own with a side platter of the herbs, sliced scallions and chilies, and lime wedges, and a bowl of jasmine rice. Squeeze lime juice over soup and top with fresh herbs—and as much chili as your palate will allow.

— Recipe from Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes