Meatless Monday: Hot and Sour Soup

February 4, 2013

Take a break from chicken noodle soup and make this vegetarian hot and sour soup instead.  This soup is loaded with flavor and will definitely wake up your palette.  The steamy vegetable broth is studded with bok choy, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and Chinese pea pods.  Although you may think hot and sour soup has an intense cooking process, the majority is made from traditional Chinese pantry items (like soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil).  A bowl of hot and sour soup will get you out of your wintertime food funk.

Hot and Sour Soup

Ingredients:

8 cups vegetable broth
1 ounce bean sprouts, rinsed
1 ounce bamboo shoots, rinsed and julienned
1 stalk bok choy, diagonally sliced
3 ounces Chinese pea pods, rinsed and strings pulled
6 dried Chinese mushrooms soaked in boiling water, rinsed, drained and julienned
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, or more to taste
1 tablespoon kung pao sauce, or more to taste
leftover soba noodle (optional)
10 ounces firm tofu or as packaged, drained and sliced *see instructions
2 tablespoons potato starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup egg substitute beaten with 1/8 teaspoon light sesame oil
cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
1 dash dark sesame oil for aroma
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
hot pepper sauce optional
 
Directions:
 
Rinse the pea pods and trim, pulling strings if necessary; leave them whole. If bok choy is not available, use a combination of celery and napa cabbage leaves; slice on the bias into bite-sized pieces.
 
Slice the tofu (bean Curd) cakes into 1/4-inch thick pieces, then carefully slice again into strips 1 by 1/4-inch (julienned).
 
Place the broth in a large soup pan; add the bean sprouts, then bamboo shoots, bok choy, pea pods, and mushrooms. Slowly bring to a gentle boil.
 
Add the sauces: hoisin, soy and kung pao. Let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until bok choy is wilted and the sprouts have lost their bitter bite. Add a little cooked soba noodle, if using.
 
Add the bean curd slivers. And as soon as the soup returns to a boil, slowly stir in the well-stirred dissolved potato starch. Slowly bring to a boil again.
 
Slowly pour in the beaten egg through the gap of a pair of chopsticks or along the back of a fork, moving the chopsticks or fork in a circular motion to shirr the egg. Remove at once from heat and cover for 30 seconds to allow egg to set and the soup will also clear somewhat.
 
Remove from heat. Add the coriander leaves. Stir gently to mix. Season with vinegar. Then adjust the sauces: soy, hoisin, or kung pao, to taste.
 
Offer pepper oil at the table for those who want it hotter.

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