Hot and Sour Soup (Vegan/Vegetarian)
You'd think that after years and years of typing essays, theses, and reports, I'd learn to save on a Word document before closed a tab. I spent two hours typing and editing this post, then it all vanished right as I clicked "publish." I know everyone else has worse things going on in their lives right now, like a world pandemic involving a deadly virus. So I'm sorry for my very minor complaint.
I am so thankful I have the luxury of being home to work on a blog while others are working around the clock protecting me like emergency personnel and healthcare workers. Also let's not forget the farmers, truck drivers, and grocery store workers who make it even possible for me to cook all these recipes. Thank you to the garage collectors, street sweepers, and custodians who make it my living arrangements and streets pleasant. Thank you to the bank workers who still have to work to make sure my finances are in check so I can afford to still do what I do. Thank you to everyone who is self-quarantining to flatten the curve.
I can't give much to all those workers who make living life comfortably possible. But for those of you I can't immediately help and thank, here is a recipe for a soup that will be so simple and easy to make, you can toss it in a stock pot half asleep and still be able to nourish your body to repeat work all over again. Wish you all a healthy day!
6 cups vegetable broth*
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly-sliced with stems discarded
Optional mushrooms include: thinly-sliced baby bella mushrooms, enoki mushrooms
8 ounce bamboo shoots, sliced and drained (optional)
2 ounce dried lily flowers, knotted (optional)**
1/4 cup rice vinegar, or more to taste
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
8 ounces silken tofu***, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large eggs, whisked
Kosher salt and white pepper (or black pepper)
*Vegetable broth can be substituted for chicken broth if you're not vegetarian or vegan.
**Dried lily flowers can be found at any Asian supermarket or herb store. This adds a certain flavor to the soup, but is not necessary.
***For vegans/vegetarians, combination of fried tofu and silken tofu adds texture and variety. For meat lovers, sliced pork or beef can replace tofu. Combination of tofu and meat is also delicious.
Set aside ¼ cup of the broth to make a cornstarch slurry later.
Add the remaining 5 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable broth, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, dried lily flowers, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili garlic sauce to a large stock pot, and stir to combine. Simmer over medium-high heat.
While the soup is heating, whisk together the ¼ cup of broth (that you had set aside) and cornstarch in a small bowl until completely smooth. If you forgot to set aside broth, combine the cornstarch with cold water instead of the hot broth currently simmering. Cornstarch powder does not combine well with warm liquids. Once the soup has reached a simmer, stir in the cornstarch slurry mixture and stir for 1 minute or so until the soup has thickened.
Stir in the tofu, half of the green onions, and sesame oil. Then season the soup with salt and a pinch* of white pepper (or black pepper) to taste.
Continue stirring the soup in a circular motion, while drizzling in the eggs in a thin stream to create egg ribbons.
For adjustments to the soup, add small amounts at a time. It's always easier to add more than to take things away. Additional rice vinegar will adjust how sour you want the sour to be. Adding more chili garlic sauce will adjust how spicy the soup is.
Serve immediately, garnished with the extra green onions.