Ever since my girleen started working at the child care center in a nearby gym she has had a near constant case of the crud. I suppose that’s just how it goes when you spend several hours a day surrounded by little walking, talking petri dishes. Adorable little petri dishes to be sure, but germ factories nonetheless. So I wasn’t shocked when she texted me from work a few nights ago, said she thought she was coming down with something, and could I please make her something to help her get over it quickly. Heh. My inner Kitchen Witch rejoiced. Of COURSE I could and would, I assured her.
Since she is a vegetarian, Jewish Penicillin was out of the question, so I started pulling together the ingredients for my other go-to dish for sickies—Hot and Sour Soup. Now I know H&S Soup traditionally uses chicken broth and pork, but it’s just as delicious and healing when you leave out the pork and use veggie stock instead of a meat stock. The magic components are all still there: Ginger, Garlic, Mushrooms, Vinegar, hot steamy Broth…It’s just as flavorful and comforting as the meatier version. And it goes together in a hot minute, so you can dig in and get to healing without delay.
I made a couple of other adjustments to the ingredients, partly because the Asian grocery is on the other side of town and was already closed, and partly because I think any healing soup needs fresh Turmeric, which is not traditionally included. Luckily my neighborhood grocery store has a decent enough international aisle, and carries a fair selection of ‘exotic’ foods so I was able to find dried mushrooms and fresh turmeric without any trouble. But again, cooking is all about (IMO) using what you like and have access to. So this is MY Vegetarian take on Hot and Sour Soup. I think it’s delicious, and hope you’ll like it too. If you make it, feel free to play around with amounts and ingredients until it’s to your liking.
Here we go:
Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
1 quart Vegetable stock (homemade if you have it, otherwise I like Pacific Organics)
6 Dried Shitakes/Cloud Ears/ or Paddy Straw mushrooms
1 small can of bamboo shoots
1/2 block of Extra Firm tofu, drained and diced into 1/4 inch squares
2-3 Tablespoons Tamari
1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar or Unseasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 scallion, sliced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
1 piece of fresh Turmeric (if available) peeled and sliced into coins
1 Garlic clove smashed and minced
Pinch of finely ground White Pepper
1-2 splashes of Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce) **optional
1 Egg, beaten well
3 Tablespoons of Cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water to form a slurry
Sesame Oil to taste
Sprinkle of Finely ground Black Pepper (Turmeric needs BP to be most effective. If not using Turmeric, omit the Black Pepper)
In a small bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with warm water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
Begin heating the stock in a 2 quart pot.
Add the Ginger, Garlic, and Turmeric to the pot and let them begin to infuse goodness into the stock.
After 15 minutes, drain the mushrooms (reserve the soaking liquid) and slice thinly and add to the pot.
Strain any grit from the mushroom water and add the water to the pot.
Drain the Bamboo Shoots and rinse under cool water. Add to the pot.
Stir in the Tamari, Vinegar, White Pepper,and Nuoc Mam.
Bring to a simmer.
Add the Tofu and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the scallions and return to simmer.
Stir in the Cornstarch Slurry and bring to a boil with stirring constantly.
Allow to simmer 3-5 minutes more.
Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the beaten egg.
Serve in warm bowls, topping each serving with a drizzle of Sesame Oil and a dash of Black Pepper.
If you like things a little more spicy, you can always add a bit of chile paste to your bowl, but taste it first since white pepper packs a punch.
This is so much better, and better for you, than any can or box of soup you’ll find at the corner store. And you’re in control of the flavor. I often make mine a with a bit more vinegar added to my bowl and bit of chile paste. I’m a big believer in killing my germs with culinary fire. But that isn’t how my girlie rolls, so I make a batch of this standard recipe and then dress my portion up to my liking.
Let me know if you try this and what you think about it.
Thanks for reading today!