Hot and Sour Soup
|Hot and Sour Soup|
Soup cookery all too often gets a bum rap for being tedious and time consuming. Hot and Sour Soup is the exception to that rule, taking as little as 30 minutes to prepare. An Asian cross between egg drop and mushroom soup, it's hearty, filling and delicious. I learned to make it in college when I had a craving for Hot and Sour and didn't feel like going to a Chinese restaurant to get it. For all you meat lovers and/or tofu haters, don't be put off by the tofu, the other stuff in this soup gives it plenty of flavour while still maintaining its silky texture.
Here's How You Do It
Prep and Cook Time: Approximately 30 minutes TOTAL
4 Cups or 1 Carton (900 ml) of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
7 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms - These can be found in any Asian market labelled simply as "Dried Mushrooms". See the image below. Though you won't need the whole bag, these will keep for a long time and can be rehydrated as needed for use in soups and stir fries. Can't find em'? No problem! Use another type of dried mushroom instead. They're available in most major grocery stores.
|Dried Shiitake Mushrooms|
1/2 Cup of Soft Tofu - sliced into thin strips. Made from soybeans, Tofu is an extremely versatile ingredient as it can be used in savory things like soups or stir fries, and sweet ones like smoothies and non dairy ice cream. It's usually found in the produce section of the grocery store among the organic salad dressings and vegetarian meat alternatives. If you like tofu and have access to an Asian market, buy it from there, as you can get a large tub of the stuff for about 2 bucks.
1/4 Cup of Sliced or Shredded Bamboo Shoots - OPTIONAL - Great in soups, salads, and stir fries, you can find these in a can already shredded or sliced in most Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of some major grocery stores. See the image below so you know what to look for. If the pieces are too big for your taste, you can always cut 'em thinner as I did. While they do add great texture and crunch to this soup, they're not necessary.
|Canned Bamboo Shoots|
1 Egg - Beaten with a fork
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch mixed with 2 Tablespoons of Water - this mix is also known as a "Slurry" and will thicken your soup
6 Tablespoons of Vinegar - I used Apple Cider Vinegar in this recipe, but you could also use Plain White or Rice vinegar instead. This puts the "sour" in Hot and Sour Soup. Try to stay away from wine and flavored vinegars, as the taste will overpower the soup.
4 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1/8 of a Teaspoon aka a drop of Sesame Oil - a little of this stuff goes a VERY long way.
1 Fresh or Dried Chilli - Crushed
1 Teaspoon of Hot Sauce
If you don't like and/or can't have spicy food, leave it out.
Salt - to taste - If you're salt sensitive, go easy, as soy sauce has plenty.
Pepper - to taste
1 Green Onion aka Scallion - Cleaned and thinly sliced - this is the only topping your soup will need, and adds a nice oniony brightness and colour.
1 Medium Pot
1 Ladle or Serving Spoon
3 Regular Bowls
1 Regular Spoon - for stirring up your slurry
1 Cutting Board
Plastic Wrap or Aluminum Foil a Plate big enough to cover 1 of your regular bowls
In the first regular bowl, pour hot water over the dried mushrooms and cover with a plate, foil, or plastic wrap.
Leave them for at least 15 minutes or until soft and sliceable.
While the mushrooms are rehydrating, get your other ingredients together.
In another regular bowl, beat your egg.
In your third regular bowl, mix your cornstarch and water.
Using your trusty knife and cutting board, slice up your tofu.
Open your can of Bamboo Shoots (if using) and measure out the amount you need.
With a sharp knife, cut a 1/4 inch off the end of your green onion, give it a quick rinse, dry it with a clean paper or tea towel, and then thinly slice and set aside.
After 15 minutes, take the mushrooms out of the hot water. If using the dried shiitake mushrooms, carefully remove and discard the stems. They're tough and inedible.
Using your knife and cutting board, slice the mushrooms into thin strips.
You are now ready to get cooking.
In a medium pot on medium-high heat, add the vinegar, soy sauce, chili or hot sauce, and sesame oil.
Give it a stir and add the mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots.
Bring to a boil and stir in your beaten egg, mixing constantly for 1 or 2 minutes in order to fully cook the egg.
Now add your cornstarch and water mixture and stir well so it doesn't form lumps in your soup.
Simmer the soup, uncovered for 1 more minute and give it a taste, adding salt and pepper if you think it's not Hot and Sour enough.
Ladle it into bowls and top with the sliced green onion.
You've made Hot and Sour Soup!
Next week I'll be teaching you that all time comfort classic : Chicken Soup!
So keep reading!
-Samantha R. Gold
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