It’s freezing here in New York. I’m not complaining, because the winter has been so mild, but the mild weather did stop me from making as many pots of hot soup as I usually do. This hot and sour soup made me realize how much I miss having a big pot of healing warming soup in the fridge at all times!
When I was a kid I remember getting hot and sour soup from the Chinese restaurant and we used to top it with those deliciously fried Chinese crispy noodles… does anyone else remember this? I’m so out of the take-out food loop now that I don’t even know if you still get those little waxy bags of crunchy noodles… But, this soup recipe is so good that it doesn’t need the noodles. Really. I did, however, put little dots of sriracha in mine at the end because it looks pretty and made it extra awesome.
The beauty of hot and sour soup is that you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. Did you know that the spice comes from black pepper? I remember being surprised at that the first time I made it… but this makes it even easier to prepare and to shop for. You can customize it with whatever mushrooms you like (I rehydrated some dried shiitakes) and whatever seaweed you like (if any). I added pork to this pot, but feel free to use chicken or if you are vegan, use tofu.
So, this week we kept this pot of comforting, warming, spicy soup in a big pot in the fridge for 4 days. We ate a lot of it. Like, an embarrassing amount. But it’s so good. And it’s so light and healthy. And it just makes you feel good. And, I also remembered another thing that happens here when there’s a pot of soup in the fridge all week. Today I went to take the pot out, got my bowl and spoon ready, opened the lid, and saw about 1/4 cup of soup left in the bottom of the pot. It’s like leaving one sheet of toilet tissue in the bathroom… ugh!!!! So disappointing, but so typical!
If you want to jump on the soup bandwagon, you should definitely also make a pot of my Butternut Squash And Apple Soup.
Here’s some of the great things in this soup:
I love mushrooms. In Chinese medicine, mushrooms ARE medicine. They are herbs. They are one of the most healing foods around. Shiitake mushrooms are probably the variety of mushroom that I use most. I love the way they taste and they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These shrooms also promote healing and have been found to fight tumors. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are often fed to a patient who has just had surgery to help the healing process.
I like to use some type of seaweed in my hot and sour soup. I used nori in this pot because it’s what I had on hand, but feel free to use whatever type you like. Seaweed is good for your thyroid gland and your lymphatic system. If you have swelling in your body or you are retaining water, seaweed is great because it acts as a diuretic. In the olden days, seaweed was fed to people to get rid of goiters and tuberculosis.
Bamboo shoots actually make you feel better if you have overeaten and are feeling full and bloated or if you have diarrhea. And, if you have a hangover, reach for the bamboo shoots because they will help you feel better faster. This vegetable can also act as a diuretic, so if you have edema, this would be good for you.
Black pepper is a Chinese herb (Hu Jiao). It helps relieve vomiting and food poisoning.
Pork strengthens the digestive system, helps with constipation, and can moisten a dry cough and other dryness in the body. It’s also good to strengthen your qi and give you energy.
- 1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes (be sure to save the soaking liquid to add to the soup)
- 1 qt chicken broth
- 1 Tbs liquid aminos (or soy sauce) (you can buy aminos here)
- ⅓ lb pork cutlet, sliced into thin strips (or use tofu for a vegan version)
- 5 oz can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 7 Tbs white vinegar
- 3 Tbs cornstarch whisked together with 4 Tbs water
- 2 Tbs nori krinkles (or substitute another type of seaweed) (you can get them here)
- 1 beaten egg
- Optional toppings: extra nori, drizzle of sriracha
- Soak the mushrooms in a small bowl of water. Drain them and reserve the soaking liquid. Slice the shrooms.
- In a large soup pot, heat the chicken broth, aminos, and sea salt.
- When it comes to a boil, add the mushroom soaking liquid, pork strips, nori, and bamboo shoots.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and black pepper.
- Bring to a full boil, and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the soup begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the egg -- stir continuously until it looks like egg drop soup.
- Ladle into bowls and top with additional nori and sriracha if desired.