Hot and Sour Soup
I can tell that spring is on the way. The days are getting longer, daylight savings is eminent and the air is thick with pollen. I was hoping these sniffles were due to allergies, but no such luck. I am officially home with a head cold. As we know there is no known cure for the common cold with the possible exception of chicken soup. This common cold however, has me craving something a little less common: Szechwan Hot and Sour Soup. I love soup but I loathe canned soup. I hate to sound like a snob (even though I am) but I won’t eat soup from a can even when I am sick. Fortunately, this recipe is easy to make and I have made it so many times that I can make it with one puffy red eye closed. Most of the ingredients for this soup are things you probably have on hand, or can easily send a do-gooder to the store to get with the possible exception of the wood ear mushrooms. Wood ear mushrooms don’t have much flavor so you can get by without them, but I really miss them when they aren’t there; I love their color and texture. They are readily available in Asian markets and many specialty stores and keep indefinitely in the cupboard. When you are ready to use them just pop the mushrooms in some hot water for about 15 minutes to bring them back to life. When I serve this soup I like some additional vinegar and Siracha sauce on the side so everyone can adjust it to their own taste. Lucky for me I don’t have to share this pot of soup with anyone due to the quarantine, so it was ‘all mine’ to enjoy.
- 6 cups chicken stock
- ¼ pound boneless chicken, sliced thinly, and cut into bite size pieces
- 6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
- 3-4 pieces of dried wood ear
- 8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into ¼ inch strips
- ¼ cup bamboo shoots
- 1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water
- 1 egg
- 1½ tablespoons vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Green onions, chopped (for garnish)
- Soak the wood ear in warm water for 15 minutes or until soft and slice into thin strips. Heat the stock in a pot. Add the chicken, mushrooms, wood ears, tofu, bamboo shoot and ginger and bring to a boil. Add the salt, ketchup and soy sauce, and continue at a low boil until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Give the cornstarch and water a stir and add to the pot; return to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and gently add the beaten egg. Draw a spoon through the soup to make the egg coalesce into fine threads as it cooks. Remove from heat. Combine the water pepper and vinegar and stir. Add this mixture a little at a time until you reach the right balance of hot and sour. Add the sesame oil, adjust seasoning, and you are ready to serve. Garnish the top of each bowl with some chopped green onions.
This soup worked wonders! I had it every night for three nights in a row, and I was right as rain by the weekend!