I have a huge soft spot for egg drop soup, specifically the Chinese-American version I first tasted as a kid. You know, the kind that's golden yellow with shards of cooked egg? I assume this fond memory is actually based on a bowl of gloopy, bland, and inauthentic egg drop soup, but that's okay. Luckily, this recipe from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is the opposite. It is bright, fresh, and dynamic.
Tomatoes add some much needed acidity and color, and fish sauce lends each bite a good deal of funk. But I also love how no stock is used; instead, ground pork is cooked with water for 15 minutes until a pork broth is created. It's a wonderful soup, though I will admit that some Sambal Oelek helps bring it alive. But that's totally up to you.
- 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- ¾ pound ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
- ⅓ pound ground pork
- 5 ½ cups water
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten together in a bowl
- 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
- Black pepper
- Sambal Oelek to taste (optional)
Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium. When shimmering, add the onion and cook until soft, about four minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt, stir well, and then cover the saucepan and cook until the tomato tomatoes have broken down, about five minutes. Stir occasionally, and turn down the heat to prevent the tomatoes from sticking.
Remove the cover and add the fish sauce and pork. Stir well with a wooden spoon to break the ground pork up into little pieces. Pour in the water, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. While soup is simmering skim off any scum that rises to the surface with a spoon.
Turn off the heat, and then pour the lightly beaten eggs into to saucepan in a wide circle. Then stir gently with a wooden spoon to break the egg up into chiffon-like pieces. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro.