Cold nights – hot soup!

Hello again! I’m proud of myself! A new post – and so soon! Now, to do away with the excessive exclamation marks. I have a good number of recipes I’ve tried for this endeavour. But with winter coming, and the need of lunch or dinner ideas, I go for the soups that have lots of filling goodness. I’m not such a fan of dairy so the creamy soups don’t appeal to me as much. One of my favourite soups is the hot and sour kind you get at Chinese restaurants. They’re all pretty standard, but they do contain a whole lot of ingredients I haven’t heard of – like tiger lily buds. Again, this recipe comes from www.allrecipes.com . Here is the direct link to it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hot-and-sour-soup-with-bean-sprouts/detail.aspx .  And again, in case you’re too lazy to click, I’m posting the recipe here as well:

Ingredients

  • 1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu, cut into strips
  • 1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoot strips, drained
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, leaves picked from stems
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Place the minced Serrano and chicken broth into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and ginger, simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo strips, simmer for 2 minutes to soften mushrooms.
  2. Stir in the bean sprouts, tamari, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and black pepper; simmer for 1 minute to soften the bean sprouts.
  3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the mirin, and stir into the simmering soup; cook for 30 seconds to thicken. Remove from heat and pour in beaten egg while stirring slowly. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with green onion and cilantro leaves.

Nutritional Information 

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 131 | Total Fat: 4.3g | Cholesterol: 53mg

So the first step for me was to replace the not so easy to find ingredients with easier to find ones. The chilli pepper that is seeded and minced can be replaced with crushed chilli flakes found at any bulk food store or in the spice isle of a supermarket. The chicken broth is pretty easy to find and if you can’t just boil some chicken and use the broth. The shitake mushrooms can easily be replaced with regular white button ones. The tofu can be left out if you don’t like it, or it can be replaced with chicken. I used it since tofu has become part of my regular diet these days. I have no idea what tamari is, so it didn’t go in. Rice vinegar can be replaced with regular vinegar. I also skipped the Japanese sweet wine. The egg absolutely cannot be skipped. You will not get the nice texture or look without it. The bean sprouts can be skipped if you can’t find them. Cornstarch is a good thickener to keep on hand but if you don’t have any, all-purpose flour will work just as well – just double it. Finally, bamboo shoots are quite easy to find in cans these days but I’m not a fan of the taste – I replaced it with sliced roasted/boiled water chestnuts. I also added a cup of cabbage.

And now to talk about some differences. I used about twice the soy sauce. However, I found that when I just put the tofu in the soup it was just kind of there. One of the things I do not only in this recipe but whenever I’m using tofu is to soak it in something before adding it so that it can absorb some of the flavour. For this one, I put it into a bowl with the soy sauce and tossed it gently every few minutes for about 15 minutes. Then, you can put it in together. Also, you’ll need to about double the vinegar – the chilli will depend on your individual taste. Finally boil everything before souring it with the vinegar. Once the vinegar has had time to meld with the soup, and then thicken it. The last thing – if you actually click on the site link there is a very handy tool. You can choose the number of servings. You’ll want to adjust it to how much you want – the soup doesn’t keep very well and tends to lump when you reheat it and the stock separates from the flour. The texture just isn’t the same.

Questions? Comments? Ask away!

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