Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup

I have had a hot and sour soup recipe in queue to try for awhile. This one is soooo fast, soooo easy and soooo good. It was a great, fast lunch today, and will be on a regular rotation now at our house. I started with a recipe I had found at The Kitchn, but modified it quite a bit to make sure it fit what I had on hand, and to make things a bit more local. Even my toddler ate a big bowl!

Hot and Sour Soup

6 button mushrooms (dried shitake or straw mushrooms would work well here, too, but you need to soak them in boiling water for at least an hour before making this. Really, any fresh mushroom will work, just slice them in and put them in the soup, no soaking needed)
1 pound ground pork or breakfast style pork sausage
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 quart chicken stock, fresh or canned
soy sauce
1/2 t ground pepper
3 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 TBSP. cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sesame seed oil
1 scallion, finely chopped

In a large stockpot, brown and crumble the pork. Once it is mostly cooked, add the onion, and saute a bit, until it starts to soften. Add the mushrooms and chicken stock. I added another 2-4 cups of water to this, in order to make enough soup for the whole family as a main dish. At this point you will add the seasoning base, then start tasting until you get the flavor just right. This really varies from person to person, so you NEED to TASTE the soup as it heats through, otherwise it will turn out too bland or salty. So...
Start with 3 T soy sauce and 3 T vinegar, plus the pepper. If the salt tastes fine, you don't need anymore soy sauce. If you like your soup spicy, add a little cayenne or hot pepper flakes, but let it cook a minute or two before you taste again or add more. It takes a minute for the flavors of those items to develop. The vinegar is what makes this soup sour, so don't skimp. I start with the three T, but ended up adding quite a bit more. You just never want to start with a large amount-you can undo too little, but undoing too much is far trickier. This last time around I used a red wine vinegar, but about any will work. Once you have the flavor right (salty, sour, slightly spicy is what you're shooting for) mix up the cornstarch. This, once again, is a personal preference. If you like your soup really thick, mix up more cornstarch, if not, then the original amount should be plenty. Once you've got that added, beat your egg and add it, a little at a time, and mix it in so you have strands of egg throughout the soup. Then you can serve it!

Addition ideas:
bamboo shoots
water chestnuts or jicama
cabbage or carrot shreds
other meats, in pieces

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