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Serious Heat: Hot & Sour Soup, My Spicy Comfort Food

[Flickr: shinyai]

Soup equals happiness for me—especially during the storming, drizzling days of winter. I especially gravitate toward Asian soups. Chicken and noodles during a bout of the flu? Not for me; I crave Hot & Sour Soup. There's something comforting and delicious about a bowl of soup that is spicy, vinegary, and filled to the rim with a variety of ingredients.

With a little effort, I can make a Hot & Sour Soup that's better than most of my local Chinese restaurants. Too often what I've ordered from a restaurant is overly vinegary, not spicy or both.

But when at home, I can tweak the soup until it's a perfect balance of heat and tartness, using a dab of Sriracha and freshly ground black pepper for the spiciness and rice vinegar for the sourness—and that's the key to perfect Hot & Sour Soup. Also, it's a great excuse to reuse leftovers. Any veggies you have lurking in the fridge like spinach or bok choy, toss 'em in. Same goes for meat, from chicken to pork to shrimp.

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