Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup



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Some like it hot!

Okay…all cheesiness aside, this soup is good stuff.  My husband was begging me to make this recipe the other day.  I can’t take credit for it.  A friend of his recommended it, but this will be something that goes into our menu rotation for a couple of reasons.

1st reason — The taste.  It tastes like a hot and sour soup from a great Chinese restaurant.  We are talking depth of flavor.

2nd reason — The health benefits of this soup are rumored to be pretty high up there.  The person who recommended this to my husband says he and his family eat this when they are fighting off colds and it helps them.  I figured why not?  We are fighting off colds (when aren’t we in the months of Sept-May?), so it was worth a try.

3rd reason — It is vegetarian, and I like to add vegetarian dishes to my repertoire whenever possible.  We eat far too many animal products (arrow to name of blog).

So — this magical recipe is from Chef Brian Tsao and his restaurant Mira Sushi & Izakaya in NYC.  I’ve never been there, but after trying this soup, I may just book a flight.  I tweaked it just a little by adding more of each ingredient and cutting out the wood ear mushrooms.  Finding wood ear mushrooms in Palatine, Illinois was beyond me.

Here is what you need to make it:

4 Cups of good quality vegetable stock

1/4 Cup soy sauce

1/4 Cup white vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp of ground black pepper (this is where the heat comes from…if you don’t want it as spicy, add a little less)

About 1 Cup of diced, extra firm tofu

1/2 Cup of canned bamboo shoots, julienned

1 Cup of rough chopped crimini mushrooms (or more if you like)

1/4 Cup of corn starch

1/4 Cup of cold water

1 large egg, beaten

1 green onion, chopped finely (both white and green parts)

Procedure:

In a medium sauce pan add your stock, mushrooms, green onion (reserve a bit for garnish) tofu, bamboo, sugar, salt, pepper, sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce.  Bring this to a boil, then simmer for about 15  minutes until the mushrooms are soft.  The amazing smells that come from this will knock your socks off — truly!

While it is simmering, mix together your corn starch and cold water into a slurry.  Bring the soup back to a boil and slowly whisk this slurry into your soup.  You will see it immediately thicken.  It is cooking magic!

Let it simmer a few more minutes and slowly drizzle your beaten egg into your soup while you are stirring it.  This will give it those pretty strings of egg.

Garnish with some of your reserved green onion and enjoy while fighting off those winter germs.

As a side note, my 6 year old’s palate is becoming more refined and she really enjoyed this soup.  There is hope out there if you have small children who hate everything you cook outside of the realm of chicken nuggets and mac and cheese.  Yay!

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