If hot soup equals a warm belly, what about hot soup that is also hot-spicy? As you can see, I’m still on my hot soup bender – and judging by the forecast for seven days of rain next week, it’s not ending any time soon. My husband is in bed with the sniffles so I decided that Hot and Sour Soup would be the perfect antidote. I am a true believer in the medicinal power of soup. I used to rely on chicken soup but now I’m looking for vegetarian options and it looks like this one will do the trick. Hot and Sour Soup contains anti inflammatory aromatics, like red chile and ginger, lending some truth to the old saying, that ‘soup is medicine in a bowl.’
This soup has all the healing properties you need to fight infections, help digestion and boost both your immune system and your metabolism. It’s also a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. The soup’s warm and silky texture feels great on a sore throat, and its hot and sour flavors help clear a stuffy nose and sweat out toxins. Plus the combination of mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots swimming in a flavorful broth that tickles your tastebuds is reason enough to enjoy this satisfying dish.
Here’s your fun fact of the day: Bamboo Shoots are not just an empty filler only found in Chinese food. They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals, especially copper and iron which are used to produce red blood cells and potassium, important for healthy heart and blood pressure. They also contain 2.5 grams of protein per 100 g serving for the low price of 27 calories. Not bad for such an innocuous little veggie… The photo above is of a young bamboo shoot just peeking above the ground. I decided to look it up because I didn’t know what they look like in nature. You’re welcome.
I have made this soup once before but this time I’m perfecting it. It is based on a Tyler Florence recipe which I veganized and added a bit more spice (because I love it). Here is the original Food Network Recipe which was my inspiration. Don’t forget to try a few drops of sesame oil on the top. Mmmm…
TIPS: Most Hot and Sour recipes call for Chinese mushrooms like wood ear or cloud ear which are easier to find dried than fresh. However, any kind of mushroom can be used. I used a combination of fresh criminy and maitake which provides good flavor and texture. If you use dried mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about a half hour to reconstitute, then slice. The scallions, cilantro and sesame oil are optional garnishes but I think they add a lot. I liked the sesame oil so much that next time I may add it right to the pot.
HOT AND SOUR SOUP
- 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
- 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
- 2 Tbsn red chili paste
- 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
- 1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
- 1 large egg, room temperature (optional)
- scallions, chopped (optional)
- cilantro, chopped (optional)
- sesame oil (optional)
- If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers. Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice. Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.
- Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture. Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.
- Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
- Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.
- Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.
Hot and Sour Soup