Happy New Year! Today I want to talk about soup – specifically this hot & sour soup that I like to make on New Year’s Day. Why on New Year’s?! Why not?
Hot & sour soup is a favorite because it’s interesting and filling. That full bodied broth…the perfect spice level to make my nose run…the bright vinegar zing -yum. What’s interesting is that when I first tasted it as a teenager I hated it! In retrospect it was probably the most complex soup I had had in my life and my tastebuds were not ready for real Chinese soup made by a real Chinese granny. Luckily I learned to love it, and I learned how to make it too.
This afternoon the craving hit me. Unfortunately today is a holiday and I doubt that I could get some shiitakes and scallions. Also it is eight degrees (Fahrenheit, but my weather app says that it feels like -1) outside…and I am staying in.
So what does one do? I need that soup, but I am bound by my pantry. Time to improvise.
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Like a good modern cook, I googled some recipes trying to find one that best matched my on-hand ingredients. I chose this hot & sour soup recipe from Gimmie Some Oven because I had almost everything on hand, and the photos really won me over.
I halved the recipe because Mister Jupiter politely declined a bowl, and I got my secret weapon –powdered shiitake– from the spice shelf. Broth was easy to summon because I always keep Better than Bouillon in the house for soup emergencies. This recipe uses organic chicken base and organic mushroom base.
It came together quickly, and I could not wait to eat it. If I were less hasty I probably would have chopped an onion into the soup. I used to buy Egg Drop Soup packets and make soup that featured chopped onion. It may not be everyone’s favorite, but it was one of mine.
thick and warming, spicy and tart, salty and fragrant
Today’s hot & sour soup was perfect! Mister smelled it from the other side of the house and wanted a taste. I added some extra ginger and used a dash of Tony Chachere’s in place of salt & pepper. It is thick and warming, spicy and tart, salty and fragrant. Here’s the recipe I used if you suddenly get the same craving. This yields three bowls as-is, and you can easily add meat or tofu for a more substantial soup.
Hot & Sour Soup
- 4 cups water, set aside 1/4 cup
- 1 tsp organic chicken base
- 1 tsp organic mushroom base
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp shiitake powder
- 1 tsp chili garlic paste
- Pinch lightly dried ginger (optional)
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Dash of creole seasoning (or salt & pepper)
- Optional scallions to finish
- Set aside 1/4 cup water
- Heat remaining water with broth pastes, ginger and shiitake powders, chili garlic paste, dried ginger, vinegar and soy sauce.
- While soup heats to a simmer, place cornstarch in the reserved water, stir well. This should look like thin milk, no lumps.
- When soup is simmering, add cornstarch water. Keep stirring for one minute.
- Drizzle the beaten egg into the simmering soup, and remove from heat immediately. (Don’t boil the soup after adding egg, because the egg will foam up instead of remaining pretty ribbons.)
- Top each bowl with creole seasoning & scallions if using. Enjoy!
Note: Next time I make this, I will add a chopped onion. I will write about it when I do, but if you do it first I would love to hear all about it!
Updated March 2021
- Want something more traditional? Try this: Double Chicken Noodle Soup