"For a quick meal on a gray and gloomy day, it's hard to beat this."
Truly authentic hot and sour soup, if such a thing exists, probably contains some ingredients that aren't super easy to track down in most local grocery stores. I mean, when was the last time you saw day lily buds, chinkiang vinegar, or wood ear fungus just hanging out on the shelves? No, for this batch I took the easy route.
This recipe from The Kitchn is good enough to make you forget about "the rules." It's a relaxing and warming soup, the kind that makes you relish the upcoming winter transition.
Hot and Sour soup is all about balance. The heat comes not from chiles, but from white or black pepper. The sour comes from a judicious pour of vinegar. The recipe calls for about three tablespoons but I added more to give the soup more zing. You can even crack some more pepper on top—it's really up to you to craft your perfect bite.
The body of the soup comes from a slurry of cornstarch and the late-in-the-game addition of a beaten egg. Both make the stock silky and rich. It's a quick trick that really works. Someday I'd like to get to a recipe like this one from Saveur, but for a quick meal on a gray and gloomy day, it's hard to beat this.
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch long by 1/4 inch thick strips
- 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced into matchsticks
- 1/4 pound boneless pork, cut into 1/2 inch long by 1/4 inch wide strips
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3 tablespoon white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Sesame oil
- 1 scallion, minced
Toss the mushrooms into a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms and slice thinly. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
Meanwhile, pour the chicken stock and soy sauce into a large pot along with the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add the sliced mushrooms, the mushroom liquid, bamboo shoots, and pork. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
Toss in the tofu, white pepper, and vinegar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Whisk together the cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of cold water. When pot is boiling, add the cornstarch slurry and stir well until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the egg. Stir gently until it is incorporated.
Serve the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of scallion.