Today seems like a good day for soup. Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup that is.
Now, I am going to spend the next five minutes professing my undying love for Hot & Sour Soup. This is serious comfort food folks; at least for me.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember me waxing poetic about a certain Healthy Chinese Restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown that I dearly miss and crave all the time. It was in this post - 1 Point Chicken Wontons.
Well, Charles Plaza makes the most unbelievable Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup – EVER. That is a difficult task my friends. Most Hot & Sour soup is pork based (which is already a problem for me since I don’t eat pork), has MSG or some other questionable ingredient and isn’t made with the highest quality stuff. I have yet to find a delicious Hot & Sour Soup (outside of Charles that is) that is made with non-GMO tofu, no MSG, no Pork, is clean and full of flavor. Trust me, I have been looking. Oh, and by the way, why doesn’t Seattle have ANY good Chinese Food? What is up with that?
I got my hands on this cookbook and right there on page 55 is a recipe for Hot and Sour Soup. I have tried about eight recipes in the last year and none of them have been up to my standards, but this one – the photo is what got me. As soon as I saw the color and texture of Bee’s Hot & Sour Soup, I knew I had to make a Vegetarian version of it. Immediately.
The irony is that I based my 1 Point Chicken Wontons on one of Bee’s recipes so I should have known to look, but I didn’t, until it fell into my lap. I guess its like that old saying; the teacher comes when the student is ready.
There are a couple specialty ingredients needed to make this soup, but once you get to your local Asian supermarket or order them online, the whole thing comes together in no time – maybe 15 minutes tops. This Vegetarian version is pretty freaking close to Charles and I can’t get enough of it!
- Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms are usually found at any Asian grocery store but most of the packages I found were treated with Sulfites. Not cool. I did a little research and found this company. After talking to a customer service rep and confirming that their mushrooms were sourced properly and not treated with anything I ordered a big bag for about $8. I will get many, many pots of soup from this bag and am really happy to have a great quality product on hand to make this soup over and over again!
- Mirin is Chinese Rice Wine (not Rice Vinegar!) There is only a teaspoon here and I am not sure it adds that much so we are not using it to marinate chicken or pork so you could probably sub Sherry Wine or one of the other substitutes listed in that article I linked to.
- I went to an amazing soup cooking class last year and was introduced to this No-Chicken broth by Imagine. It really is one of the best quality pre-made broths I’ve ever used and is particularly amazing for Vegetarian dishes where you want a clean, chicken stock like flavor. TIP: There are always coupons for this brand on Mambo Sprouts and Whole Foods Market so clip some and stock up because it can be pricey (but worth it!).
- When it comes to canned, sliced Bamboo Shoots, I usually stick with either Native Forest or Sun Luck. Neither has any sulfites or added preservatives and are easily found at the stores I shop at. Sun Luck is a bit less expensive and found at the regular grocery store here in addition to the natural food stores.
- Chinese Black Vinegar (also called Chinkiang) should be easy to find at any Asian grocery store. It was only a couple dollars for a big bottle.
- A quick tip to save some time is buy a bag of already shredded carrots. I prefer the crunch of the thin matchsticks but sometimes you just want to save time and you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!
- Last note – I prefer my Hot & Sour soup on the thinner side but if you want a thicker soup, I suggest doubling the cornstarch and water ratio to 6 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup water.
- 1 large or ¼ cup dried wood ear mushroom, soaked in 1 cup boiling water and sliced
- 6 ounces organic, NON-GMO soft tofu, cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon Mirin
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 cups Imagine "No-Chicken" broth
- 1 cup reserved mushroom soaking water
- 1 small carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
- 4 ounces sliced bamboo shoots, rinsed and cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 scallions, greens only, cut into thin rounds
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Chinese Black Vinegar (Chinkiang)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch + ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon Red Chili Oil (or more to taste)
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Start by covering the dried wood ear mushroom with one cup of boiling water. Set aside to soak while you complete the rest of the prep work.
- Slice tofu into thin strips and combine with Mirin and ½ teaspoon cornstarch.
- Cut sliced bamboo shoots into thin matchsticks.
- Trim whites off scallions and cut greens into thin rounds.
- Combine soy sauce, black vinegar, rice vinegar, white pepper, salt, remaining cornstarch and water with red chili oil and toasted sesame oil.
- Beat eggs and cut carrots into thin matchsticks. Pull dried mushroom out of soaking liquid (reserving liquid for soup) and thinly slice. Yes, it looks strange. It's good and adds so much to the soup.
- Pour the broth and mushroom soaking liquid into a large saucepan or soup pot and bring to a boil. .
- Add tofu, mushrooms, carrot and bamboo shoots and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
- Next, add in the seasonings (soy sauce, etc.). Stir to combine and turn off heat.
- Gently pour the beaten eggs into soup in a circle pattern. Immediately stir two to three times with a pair of chopsticks, cover and let sit for two minutes.
- Serve topped with chopped scallions and more Chili Oil to taste. Enjoy!