Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Best Hot & Sour Soup in the World!

Hot and Sour Soup

Recipe from the cookbook, “Soup:  A Way of Life”
by Barbara Kafka

4 dried shiitake mushrooms (or ½ cup fresh)
5 ½ cups Roasted Pork Stock (or substitute chicken or beef stock)
¼ pound boneless pork loin, or leftover roasted pork loin, cut into matchstick strips
Two ¼ pound cakes firm silken tofu, cut into matchstick strips
3 tablespoons cornstarch*
4 to 5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt**
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
One 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained, blanched for 2 minutes, and drained
2 eggs, lightly beaten

for serving:
2 medium scallions, trimmed and cut across into thin slices or thin matchstick sections
Toasted sesame oil

In a small bowl, soak the mushrooms in ½ cup warm water for 15 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms.  Strain the liquid through a coffee filter and reserve.  Remove and discard the mushroom stems. Slice the caps across into thin strips and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock and mushroom soaking liquid to a boil.  If using fresh mushrooms, don’t worry about replacing this liquid.  Stir in the mushroom strips and the raw pork, if using.  Return to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Stir in the tofu and cooked pork, if using, and simmer for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup water.  Stir some of the hot soup into the mixture.  Whisk into the soup.  Stir in the vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the bamboo shoots and heat through.

With a circular motion, pour the eggs into the soup.  Stir once to break the eggs into threads.

Sprinkle each serving with scallions and a few drops of sesame oil.

Makes 7 cups.

* This time I experimented with using xanthan gum, a thickener, as a replacement for the cornstarch.  It took a very small amount, the equivalent of ¼ tsp! to achieve the thickening I desired.  If you wish to replace the cornstarch to remove the gluten from the recipe I encourage you to try this, but start with a small amount and add it gradually to the soup base.  I couldn’t tell any difference in taste.
**I didn’t add salt while cooking.  I did add a small amount to my bowl at the dinner table.

Note:  Until I learned to blanch the bamboo shoots before adding them to a dish I didn’t like them because they always had a metallic taste.
The blanching completely removes that weird aftertaste!

One of the most satisfying things about this soup is the interesting combination of flavors and textures.  It is delicious!

blanching the bamboo shoots

leftover pork tenderloin, crosscut, then cut into matchsticks

I prefer cutting my scallions into thin strips

beaten egg

mushrooms added to soup stock

rice vinegar added to stock

stirring the soup in a circular fashion before adding the beaten eggs

here is the soup after eggs have been added and break into "threads"

garnishing the soup with scallions and a few drops of toasted sesame oil 
prior to serving.

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