Hot and sour soup, served as a side at your typical Chinese restaurant, has always been a favorite of mine. The version found at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Szechuan House, is great, but somehow it seemed like a homemade batch might take the flavors to the next level. So, I grabbed my friend and fellow Szechuan fan Tim to see what we could come up with.
Before starting on our own soup, we headed down to Szechuan House for a couple bowls of their own hot and sour so we’d have a fresh taste to judge against our own.
For our own, we consulted Mark Bittman’s excellent How to Cook Everything, which is pretty much my go-to for, well everything. We also checked out a few Chinese cookbooks courtesy of Tim’s mother, but what we ended up making was primarily based on Bittman’s recipe.
Hot and Sour Soup Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 pound lean pork loin, chicken breast, or flank steak, cut into thin shreds against the grain (optional)
- 6 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 5 dried shitake (black) mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least 10 minutes
- 5 Chinese wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least 10 minutes
- 1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar, or to taste
- 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped scallion
How to Cook Your Hot and Sour Soup
- First, whisk together 1 teaspoon sesame oil with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon cornstarch and marinate your meat in this mixture. While the meat marinates, combine the stock, garlic, and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Drain your mushrooms and cut them into thin slices before adding them to the stock. Reduce the heat to low and allow the stock to cook at a steady bubble for 5 minutes.
- Crank the heat back up to medium and bring the stock to a boil before adding the meat, stirring to ensure pieces do not stick together. Cook until the meat loses its pinkness, about 3 minutes. Now add the tofu, vinegar, pepper, and the rest of soy sauce to your soup before reducing the heat to low to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Mix the rest of the cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water and stir this into the soup until it thickens (about a minute). Keep stirring while you pour in the eggs in a slow stream so they form thin ribbons. Remove from the heat and season with the remaining sesame oil along with vinegar or pepper to taste.
- Garnish with the cilantro and scallion and you’ve got yourself a swell hot and sour soup!