August 29, 2009
Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and sour soup is something I really enjoy. It is served at many Chinese and Thai restaurants in all kinks of configurations. I try staying away from the ones that use tofu, it doesn't have a flavor so that isn't objectionable but the texture is what I don't like. Most soups have either chicken, tofu, pork with or without noodles. My soup is very American like all my recipes I use what I can find locally to replicate what I need to get to. So this recipe is a simple American/Chinese/Thai Hot and Sour Soup.
There are a lot of different approaches to get you there, you can use white pepper or crushed pepper or any number of different ways to get the hot, I use Tabasco sauce, it is easy to control, the same is true for the sour, Chinese vinegar is highly used but I use Lime juice, it is easy to find and easy to use.
I am going to present this in a way that gives you ideas rather than a staunch recipe.
I start with the broth, the whole deal with soup is the broth, if that isn't right, don't waste the rest of the ingredients, it doesn't matter. For the two of us I use 3 to 4 cups of Chicken Broth from the carton, low sodium is better. Then I put out 3 key ingredients, Soy Sauce, Tabasco and Lime Juice, you put out what ever you use for those flavors. I work slowly with small amounts of each until I get the flavor I am looking for, additional flavor can be added at the table after being served.
If I use chicken, I like it pouched, cut into small cubes, not a lot you still want the broth to be the star of the show. The last time I made it I used Char Siu and it was very good. I like Chinese noodles that I make (check out my Pasta page). If you use fresh noodles don't cook them separate put them in when you are 2 or 3 minutes away from serving, they will cook in the broth, I like noodles done this way.
Once you get the broth the way you want it add a lightly scrambled egg slowly swirl through the soup it should change the color and thicken the soup, like you you do an egg drop soup, don't leave this out makes a big difference. Add meat or tofu, noodles(a must for me) and top with scallions.
This is a really simple soup, I have seen recipes with a lot more ingredients, I don't think they are necessary.
If you don' t have Tabasco which is easy to control, you can use white pepper(much harder to control), crushed hot red peppers(really hard to control) all of these will work fine but just becareful and add small amounts at a time and taste after each addtion, that is true for all versions of this soup.
If you don't have Lime Juice you can use whatever you have that can add a sour flavor, lemon but it won't be as good, Rice Vinegar (this is used by many).
If you don't have Soy Sauce go out and buy some, you can't cook anything oriental without Soy Sauce.