hot and sour soup

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This is one of those soups that is so easy to do right that it is just amazing how many times you get bad hot and sour soup when you go out to Asian restaurants. You can even make decent hot and sour soup without any special ingredients, though if you take the time to select good seasonings and make good stock/broth you will be rewarded.
Servings:
4 to 6
Preparation Time:
0.25 hours
Tools
  • 2 qt. soup pot & lid
  • cutting board & knife
  • large bowl
  • whisk
  • long wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 5 c. stock or broth
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. chile oil
  • 1/2 t. corn starch
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, 1/4" slice
  • 1/2 c. shitake mushroom, 1/8" slice
  • 1 carrot, 1/16" slice
  • 1/2 c. peas, rinsed
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 2 t. fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 4 to 8 T. rice wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Cooking Instructions
  1. Place the stock/broth into the pot over high heat and cover.
  2. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, chile oil, and corn starch in the large bowl.
  3. Add the sliced tofu to the bowl to marinade.
  4. Slice the onion, mushrooms, and carrots so they will cook in the same amount of time.
  5. As soon as the pot starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium and leave it uncovered
  6. Stir in the tofu (with the marinade). Do not stir too hard or let the soup boil too hard or the tofu will break up.
  7. Add the onions, mushrooms, and carrots and wait 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the peas, fish sauce, and black pepper and wait 2 more minutes.
  9. The first time you make the soup, start out by adding 4 T. of vinegar, stir and taste the soup.
  10. Keep adding 1 T. of vinegar at a time until it is just a little bit more sour than you want it. The final cooking, additions, and cooling will mellow the flavour.
  11. After you make the soup a few times your nose will tell you when you have added enough vinegar.
  12. Whisk the corn starch and cold water together in the large bowl into a slurry.
  13. Slowly stir about half of the slurry into the soup and wait a couple minutes.
  14. Keep adding a little slurry until the soup is slightly thinner than you want it. It will thicken a bit more as it cools.
  15. Whisk the eggs very well in the large bowl then turn off the heat.
  16. Give the soup a slow stir and then pour the eggs slowly into the soup.
  17. You want the eggs to form thin ribbon-like noodles as they cook in the soup. It will take practice, but even flecks of egg taste good in your first few soups. :-)
Notes
If you want to add meat to the soup, wait for the stock/broth (or even water) to start boiling then immerse the thinly sliced and marinated raw meat into the liquid to cook for a few minutes. This will add more flavour to the soup. Turn down the heat and skim off any scum that floats to the surface before adding the tofu.

I only add a green onion garnish to the soup when they are in season. But I will always have a selection of sauces (soy, chile, plum), oils (sesame & chile), and some extra vinegar on the table so people can adjust the soup to their own liking.

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I'll have to give this one a

I'll have to give this one a try.

You're right, it's amazing how many places make a bad hot & sour soup. I make an excellent heavy one, like they tend to make in New England, with lily blossoms, though I only get in the mood for this type in really cold weather. I make a decent medium thickness one, like you tend to find in most restaurants, with wood-ear, shitake and fresh bamboo shoots.

But what I can never seem to get is the light soup like the Jade Palace made. Every time I try, the flavor ends up too weak or one of the flavors is too dominant.

When I want really good egg ribbons, I pour the egg mixture slowly down a 3 prong serving fork that I have, slowly moving it around with the prongs just above the surface. The prongs are far enough apart that the egg sets before it hits another strand. It's a fun trick, but really only worth the effort for guests. I kinda like having a few of the bigger egg clumps in there when I freehand it.

I will have to try the fork

I will have to try the fork trick with the eggs. I just kept practicing until I got it to the point where I could poor the eggs slowly enough so that they would set without clumping or breaking up.