I was going to blog about my latest knitting obsession today, but then Elizabeth asked me to share my recipe for hot and sour soup and since so many of my posts are merely what you all request me to write about, how could I say no?
I love hot and sour soup. I’m not saying if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be that, but it’s definitely in the top two choices. I hadn’t made it in years when Pat requested it for dinner the other night. Being a huge fan of Chinese food who lives with two people who are not as enthusiastic about Chinese as myself, I jumped at the chance to make it. I’d had it stuck in my head I needed a bunch of weird ingredients to make hot and sour soup, but after glancing at a few of my cookbooks, I realized that as long as you have vinegar, you can have hot and sour soup. And with my little pickling obsession, I’ve always got vinegar. I used both seasoned rice vinegar and cider vinegar and the sourness was perfect.
This recipe is definitely more of a guideline than an actual recipe – I did not measure anything, I just added things until it tasted right. There were definitely other items I would have liked to have had in it, but I was working with what I had on hand, so I skipped them. I did happen to have rice noodles, so I threw those in to give a little heft to the soup if you will. I have decided rice noodles are a pantry staple because I like to cook so much Thai food- I get mine at the Asian food store where they are significantly cheaper than the grocery store prices. This “recipe” is based on recipes from two cookbooks – the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen (and if you don’t have that cookbook already, you really do need it on your shelf) and a “Chinese Vegetarian Cooking” by Deh-Ta Hsiung that is one of the first cookbooks I started out with. Both of them use dried mushrooms, which you can certainly use if so inclined. I also put carrots in mine because I happen to like carrots in everything. You can feel free to skip them – again, this is only a guideline. (The onions are also my addition, I tend to start just about every dish with them. You could use the scallions instead if you have them.)
One more note – I take a slew of hot peppers every summer, chop and freeze them in ice cube trays. I store the cubes in a ziploc in my freezer. When I need a bit of a kick to a recipe, I pull the bag out and add them. Because the heat can vary, I usually start off with about half a cube. If using fresh or canned chilis, I’d go with as much as you tend to throw into recipes where you want some heat. After all, it is HOT and sour soup. If you prefer to cook a little cautiously, you can always add some red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne when serving for a little extra kick.
Hot & Sour Soup
Onion, sliced thinly, then halved
Chili peppers, minced
Mushrooms, sliced (button and/or shitake work nicely)
Tamari or soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Stock – Chicken, pork or vegetable (if using dried mushrooms, use the liquid you drain off!)
Tofu, cut into small cubes or thin shreds
(Chicken or pork, already cooked, chopped or shredded)
(Thinly sliced bamboo shoots)
Rice noodles (I like the very thin ones broken up – just a handful works well here)
2 tbsp corn starch
Eggs, beaten with salt or soy sauce
In sesame oil, saute onion about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, garlic, ginger, chili peppers and carrots and cook, stirring frequently over medium heat until carrots are softened, about 5 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, add them now. Add a good shake of tamari and rice wine vinegar and cook another 8 minutes or so, until there is a good scent coming from the pot and the mushrooms have softened. Add enough stock to make a soup the consistency you prefer and bring to a simmer. Add tofu and any other extras and simmer for 5 minutes. (Stir in rice noodles and continue to simmer.) Taste for heat and sourness – adding more vinegar and cayenne pepper as needed to taste.
Add just enough broth to the corn starch to make a paste, then stir into the soup. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the beaten egg, stirring for another minute. Serve garnished with scallions if desired.