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Traditional Hot and Sour Soup

12:45 PM

I've been looking for a good basic Hot and Sour soup recipe for years. A couple months ago, I found one and decided to try it out and tweak it once the weather turned cold.  Well, here we are. I was expecting this to be too sour and spicy for my kids, but lo and behold they ate it!  They especially liked the mushrooms and chose to eat them first.

Hot and Sour soup is one of the 3 elements that I judge every chinese restaurant I go into by (the 2nd is their eggrolls, and the 3rd is how well they handle their seafood dishes). I'm picky and I've had A LOT of different variations.  The recipe that I'm sharing here is very mild.  Only slightly hot and sour... I'd call it more of a "warming" soup.   You can always add more rice vinegar and chili oil at the table (which Mark and I did and it created a gorgeous, fresh, bracing experience).  The Chinese traditionally use this soup medicinally as a starter course to help get the immune system moving and, with enough chili oil, to get the sinuses cleared. 

It's perfect for cold season and, in my opinion, for every other season as well.

Hot and Sour Soup
1/4 oz Dried Wakame (or Kombu)
6 fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
a "fist-sized" bunch of Oyster Mushrooms (or Maitake would be great too)
6-8 oz firm tofu
1 cup (1 can) drained bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp Tamari
1/4 tsp chili oil
1/2 tsp seasalt
a large pinch of ground white pepper
1 or 2 eggwhites, lightly beaten
1 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, cut into fine rings, to garnish

* you can also add a paste of 1 tbsp tapioca/potato starch to 1 tbsp water to thicken.  I didn't do this and I liked the texture the way it was. Most restaurants thicken with quite a bit of cornstarch*

Soak the wakame in water until soft and then drain and set aside.  Trim and discard the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and detach the Oyster mushrooms from the fleshy central part that holds them together. Cut the Shiitake caps into thin strips.  Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.  

Place the stock, wakame, mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots into a large stockpot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.  

Stir in the sugar, vinegar, tamari, chili oil, salt and pepper.  Add the starch mixture at this point if you decide to do so.  Stir the soup thoroughly.  

Add the lightly beaten eggwhites by pouring slowly into the soup in a steady stream.  Stir constantly while cooking until the egg white changes color/scrambles.  

Add the sesame oil just before serving.  Garnish with scallion rings, and a little extra rice vinegar and chili oil (If you like things really hot and sour) and Enjoy!

I served this soup with a side of homemade vegetable fried rice, and crispy tofu.  

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