Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup - Beth the BakerLong, long ago, I found a really good recipe for Hot and Sour Soup. I made it a few times according to the recipe and then eventually just made it by memory. People (mostly Jennifer Campbell) loved the hot and sour soup and would travel far and wide to consume it. (Okay, she lived around the corner from me at the time so it wasn’t all that far). The legend of the hot and sour soup even made the infamous Quad Cities radio board back in the day, with Mark Irvine begging for the recipe. (Okay, maybe not so much begging as asking. Not sure I ever gave it to him…)

Jennifer I believe, once consumed an entire pot of soup by herself (it may not have been the whole twelve servings, but close).

So I had been making it for so long I lost the recipe itself and now make it from memory to my taste. I decided to make it yesterday and so measured things out for accuracy.

RE: Hot sauce. Since I’ve been making this for years based on eyeballing and tasting, I had to measure out how much hot sauce I use. I just kind of dump it in and keep adding and tasting until it suits me. First off, it can be whatever hot sauce you like, or a garlic chili sauce if you prefer. I prefer a vinegar based hot sauce like Frank’s Red or the like. Adds to the “sour” part. I start with about 2 tbsp but usually end up adding more like.. 4-6.

I used some finely chopped pork shoulder in the batch I made yesterday and it was very tasty! However, you can use chicken or omit meat all together for a veggie version (leave out the egg for vegan, obvi).

Speaking of the egg… yes, it gives it a sort of, shall we say… an unpleasant look about it. But don’t let that deter you! It’s delicious! And good for you!

P.S. I sometimes also add bean sprouts if I have some for extra veg and crunch. Experiment! It’s fun!

Serves 12

  • 10-12 shiitake mushrooms* (I can usually find fresh, but if you get dried ones, rehydrate in water until soft)
  • 8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable if you’re doing a veggie soup)
  • 2/3 cup sliced bamboo shoots (I like to get the ones that are thinly sliced, but either/or)
  • 2/3 cup lean julienne pork (or chicken… or omit)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar (I usually leave out)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I rarely add – I usually find stock is enough salt)
  • 1/4 cup red wine or rice or cider vinegar (I have used all three. Just depends on your taste. The vinegary the better! I have also used white.. just depends on what you have on hand!)
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot, Tabasco.. more on that later…)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 (16 ounce) package firm tofu, cubed (pick whichever firmness you prefer. Some like soft)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (I don’t use this much if at all.. mostly because I generally don’t have it but also, I sometimes find it too overpowering.. your pick)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

Directions

Soak the dried mushrooms warm water for 20 minutes if you are using dried. If not, proceed.

After trimming off any tough stems, slice the mushrooms. (*You can also use a combination of Asian mushrooms like adding enoki aka tiger lily bud mushrooms…. I generally just use the shiitake but I have used a combo of shiitake and oyster – whatever you like best!).

Place the mushrooms, stock, bamboo shoots, and julienne pork or chicken (if using) into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in soy sauce, sugar, salt, hot sauce, and vinegar.

Combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add a little of the hot soup to the cornstarch, and then return all to the pan. Heat to near boiling, stirring. You can add some more cornstarch and water if you like your soup a little thicker, but I like it more on the wateryish side (yes, I made a new word). Add the tofu, and cook 1 to 2 minutes.

Just before serving, turn off the heat. Stir the egg in gradually. Mix in sesame oil. Sprinkle each serving with green onions.

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