Hot and sour soup.
It’s like a hug in liquid form.
I once believed that the only way I could get my hands on a bowl was if I visited a Chinese restaurant.
Those were dark times.
Then one day I realized I could make my own and found I preferred it because I could control the ingredients–especially the cornstarch! (Has anyone else noticed how thick restaurant-style hot and sour soup is? A brick could float on that stuff!)
So if you enjoy things that are hot, things that are sour and things that are soupy, then you’re gonna love a bowl of homemade hot and sour soup.
Homemade Hot and Sour Soup
(The following is an adaptation of Tyler Florence’s recipe for Hot and Sour Soup.)
Here are some ingredients you will need but may not already have in your kitchen:
Fresh ginger, hard tofu, chili sauce (sambal oelek), dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rice wine vinegar, white pepper
These ingredients are, for the most part, easy to find in larger grocery chains. The tofu and ginger will be in the produce area. The chili sauce, dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil (not shown) will be in the Asian cooking aisle. You may choose to use regular ground black pepper, but it’s really best to use white pepper.
First, reconstitute the mushrooms.
Bring some water to a boil. Turn heat off, toss in 4-6 mushrooms and allow to soak for 30 minutes. (It is recommended that you use wood ear or cloud, but I prefer the meatiness of shitake.)
Next, prep all of your ingredients before cooking.
*Drain mushrooms and cut into thin strips.
*Lightly squeeze the excess liquid from one square of hard tofu and cut into strips. Save the other square (with the liquid) for future use. Use within a week.
*Drain bamboo shoots and cut 1/4 to 1/2 cup into matchsticks. (I prefer less bamboo in my soup.)
*Peel and grate a one-inch piece of ginger.
*In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of white pepper and a pinch of sugar.
*In another small bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs until smooth.
In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil and a drizzle of sesame oil over high heat. Add bamboo shoots, mushrooms, ginger and 1 tablespoon chili sauce. Saute 1 minute.
Cook’s Note: Most hot and sour soup recipes add thinly sliced raw pork or chicken during this step. I leave the meat out most of the time to cut cost, but feel free to add it.
Slowly pour in the soy sauce mixture and cook another minute.
Add 2 quarts of good-quality chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. (I also like to throw in a couple green onions here.)
Once the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
Add tofu and cook another 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup warm water until smooth, and stir it into the soup.
Allow soup to thicken a little by cooking uncovered for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.
Remove pot from heat and stir the soup in one direction until you build up a strong current.
Working quickly while the current is still going, steadily pour the beaten eggs into the soup. Long ribbons of cooked egg will immediately begin to form.
Try not to stir the soup around or you will break up those lovely egg ribbons!
Serve hot with freshly chopped cilantro, green onion and an extra splash of rice wine vinegar.
Mmmm! Your bowl of hug awaits you.
*4-6 wood ear, cloud or shitake mushrooms
*2 Tablespoons canola oil
*Drizzle of sesame oil
*1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
*1 Tablespoon sambal oelek or chili sauce
*1/4-1/2 cup bamboo shoots, drained and cut into matchsticks
*1/4 rice wine vinegar plus more for serving
*1/4 cup soy sauce
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon white pepper
*Pinch of sugar
*2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
*1 square firm tofu, cut into 1/4″ strips
*2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup warm water (slurry)
*2 eggs, beaten
*Green onions and cilantro
Soak mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and slice into thin strips.
In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar.
In another bowl, beat 2 eggs until smooth.
In a large stockpot, heat oil and add mushrooms, ginger, bamboo and chili sauce. Saute one minute. Add soy mixture and cook another minute. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tofu and cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook another 5-7 minutes till slightly thickened. Remove pot from heat and stir soup in one direction. With the current still going, slowly pour in eggs. Long egg “ribbons” will form. Do not stir soup around or you will break the ribbons up.
Serve hot. Top with freshly chopped green onions and cilantro and an extra dash of vinegar if desired.