Hot and Sour Soup

Have you ever had one of those days where you leave your house at 7am only to get to work 2 hours later, and an hour and a half late, because of less than half an inch of snow?

Have you ever had one of those days when after a day of work, and two hours of after-school tutoring, you reach for your wallet to put your payment away, only to realize your purse isn’t there?  Then your heart starts to race and you run back into the library where you were tutoring, because you are sure you left it there on the back of the chair, but the chair is empty?

Have you ever had one of those days where your inability to remember anything has once again provided an opportunity for someone else to take what is yours, and all you can do is sit in your car and full on ugly-cry?  And while you’re sitting in your car, the sky spits frozen rain-snow, you are sobbing, and between phone calls to cancel your credit cards you say “why me?” and “when will something good happen?” And then you drive home, while your sweet man friend tells you not to be so hard on yourself, and all you can think of is how you shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a nanny, or at the very least a loud bell?

Have you ever had one of those days when you finally get home, 11 hours after you left it that morning?  You trudge up your 3 flights of stairs, cold and mascara-stained, open the door, say a tearful hello to your noisy cat and close it with a sigh.  Then you turn around to hang up your coat and find your purse hanging on the hook, right where you left it that morning.  Have you ever had one of those days?

Me neither.

I have two perfectly good–cancelled–credit cards for another reason.

If you have had one of those days, this soup will turn it right around.  I know from a… friend.  It’s warm and comforting and will replace stress with smiles.

Let’s make soup.  Let’s not go shopping or pay bills.  At least not for another 5-7 business days.

First, grate some peeled ginger and garlic with a microplane.
Slice mushrooms very, very thin and set aside.  Open a can of bamboo shoots and slice them into thin batons.
In a separate bowl, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar and stir.  Also, not pictured, beat 1 egg in another bowl, and in yet another bowl, create a slurry of cornstarch and water.  Set all of this aside, you’ll need it later.
It’s important to do this before because the rest goes very fast.

In a preheated, heavy bottom pot, add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, some chili-garlic paste, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
Add the soy sauce mixture and stir.  Cook for only about 30 seconds–it should smell fantastic at this point!
Add 2 quarts low sodium chicken stock, bring it to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add 1 package of dried ramen noodles (not the seasoning pack!).  Let them cook for 3 minutes.  After 3 minutes, add the cornstarch slurry and stir, until soup is slightly thickened.
Remove soup from the heat.  With a spoon, stir the soup in the same direction to create a swirly vortex. Slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and watch as pretty little egg wisps form.
Add chopped green onions and chopped cilantro to the hot soup, reserving some for serving in individual soup bowls.
Serve immediately with extra cilantro and green onions.  This soup has got a kick, but if you like things extra hot then you could add some sriracha or chili sauce.
This is soul-warming.  Hot and sour soup is my favorite Chinese take-out item, so being able to make it at home was such a treat.  The noodles give it a nice texture and the bamboo shoots, which I didn’t really think had a taste, did give a nice crunch to the soup.
Next time I get sick, which judging form the number of students who coughed within 6 inches of my face yesterday should be any second now, I will make this.  It feels like the kind of soup that could kick a cold to the curb.
It doesn’t need to be simmered for long, as the flavors are already very intense, so in terms of a week-night meal, it’s perfect.  Even if you have a day like I did I described above, this is a doable dinner.
Here’s the recipe!

Hot and Sour Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (from about 4-5 good sized mushroom caps)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon red chili paste (like sambal oelek)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 package ramen noodles, without flavor pack
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped and divided

Method 

  1. Combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, salt, ground pepper, and sugar in a small bowl.  Dissolve corn starch in water in a separate bowl.  In another bowl, lightly beat an egg.  Set all bowls aside.
  2. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add oil, and when it begins to shimmer, add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic, ginger, and red chili paste.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add soy sauce mixture and cook for 30 seconds more.  It should smell very fragrant at this point. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add noodles and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to break apart.  Add cornstarch mixture and stir until slightly thickened.
  3. Remove soup from the heat and stir in one direction until a current is formed.  Slowly pour in beaten egg and watch as the egg cooks and feathers into little wisps.  It should cook immediately.  Add the green onions, reserving enough for individual servings, and add 1/2 cup of the cilantro.
  4. Serve with more green onions and cilantro.

Enjoy!

 

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