We recently made hot and sour soup for the first time, and I can’t imagine why I waited this long. It was prompted by the annual advent of scallion-chive flatbreads, since the chives are shooting up in the garden and we happened to have a bag of cilantro in the fridge, and nothing goes better with these breads than soup. We just picked up a used copy of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young, and I pulled this recipe out more or less at random. It looked simple and fast, useful features when you’re also making involved flatbreads.
I followed it pretty closely, while leaving out the lily buds, adding a bit of extra pork, and using the pre-shredded black fungus that we’ve become addicted to instead of whole cloud ears. The soup is heated with white pepper and soured with cider vinegar, and the main complaints we had were the lack of salt (fixed with a dab of soy sauce after serving) and the dullness of the vinegar flavor, apparently due to adding it early in the cooking process. When we ate the leftovers I added a bit of fresh vinegar and it was much peppier. But other than that it was really good – soothing and very textural, and the breads (which I made with hot chile oil and plenty of salt) were fantastic dipped into it.
I think we’ll try a variation on the recipe soon – maybe Barbara Tropp’s version which uses rice vinegar and soy. Does anyone have a recipe for hot and sour soup they really like? I think this could become part of our regular rotation.
Hot and Sour Soup
Adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young. Serves four.
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1/4 cup dried black fungus
- 1 block silken tofu, cut into cubes
- 6 ounces pork (or less), sliced thinly
- 1 small can slivered bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly
- pinch of sugar
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
Soak the fungus in cold water for half an hour or until softened. Drain.
Stir together the cornstarch and vinegar in a small bowl with one tablespoon of water.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan.
When the broth is boiling, add the fungus, tofu, pork, and bamboo shoots, and bring back to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook at a boil, stirring, until the soup thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the beaten egg, scallions, sugar and pepper. I would also add another splash of cider vinegar at this point, to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve with soy sauce and hot sauce, with flatbreads or buns. Also good ladled over leftover rice.