A while back Mountain View was hit by a cold front, with cold air that seemed to sink right into your bones and gray, gray skies that would occasionally open up to pour rain down on all the depressed Californians and my balcony. That is probably what inspired me, on a night when I wanted Chinese food, to pull out the soup pot and make a nice, warming hot and sour soup with extra veggies and seasonings. I made what is usually a small starter soup into a main course, serving it with hot, short grained rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds. DH is always happy when we have Chinese food, and we both enjoyed curling up at home, safe from all the unpleasant weather outside, with a nice, warm bowl of Chinese soup.
I have some great college memories of making egg drop soup with a friend of mine who had spent some of her high school years in Taiwan. It was fun to watch plain old egg turn into the strands that defined the dish, but I hadn’t made the recipe since. This hot and sour soup took the best parts of that recipe, and took it up a few notches to make it the satisfying center of our meal. The recipe turned out well, but I think it might be possible to make it even better with a little tweaking. Any suggestions? In the meantime, the next time you’re craving hot, soothing soup- why not take inspiration from a Chinese soup and make it your own? Winter just might seem a little farther away, with the right soup on the table.
Hot and Sour Ginger Chinese Soup Recipe with tofu and spinach
1 tbsp. peanut oil
One onion, diced
One knob of ginger, grated
3/4 of a small, firm tofu package
4 cups vegetable broth (from scratch or from GF vegetable bullion)
1 handful dried shitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water, to soak mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 cup or more fresh spinach, shredded
2 tbsp. GF soy sauce (San-J low sodium)
3-4 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar (or sub 1 tbsp. mirin for one of the tbsp. of rice vinegar)
salt, to taste, and white or black pepper
1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 spring onions
Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and chop, reserving liquid.
Slice your tofu and press in a kitchen towel for 30 minutes. Cut your tofu into strips. Heat peanut oil in your favorite pan (Cast iron or nonstick), throw in your onion ad cook it it becomes slightly translucent and then move the onion over to another side of the pan, add a little more oil and saute the tofu until golden and crispy on each side, throwing in your grated ginger and eventually mixing the tofu with the cooked onion. Add your four cups of vegetable broth and simmer for fifteen minutes. Finally add bamboo shoots and spinach, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar/mirin, white pepper, chili garlic sauce and the leftover shitake soaking liquid, as well as sliced white part of the green onions. Heat the ingredients until almost boiling. Mix your water and corn starch in a small bowl and then slowly add to your warm broth, stirring and letting broth thicken slightly. Take your beaten raw egg and either pour it through a fork or whisk through the stock so you get strands of egg throughout the broth. Finally add any extra salt or other seasonings to taste, including sliced part of the green onions and dribble toasted sesame oil throughout the soup or in individual serving. Yummy!
It’s best to only add egg to the portion of the soup you will be consuming right away. If you want leftovers, or to freeze some for later, pour whatever you don’t want to eat right away into a bowl to cool and then just drizzle beaten egg in the pot with the soup you plan to eat.