“Most of us love that warm bowl of Hot and Sour Soup that they serve at many Asian restaurants before your meal. Its comforting taste seems to clear the head and relax the soul. It’s also light, refreshing and low calorie. Yet, many of us haven’t given this delicious soup a try in our own home kitchens. It’s so easy to put together and it saves wonderfully for the next day. It’s also the perfect dish to try as we bring in the new year with resolutions to lighten up. I encourage you to give this a try. It’s very versatile so you can spice it up to your liking and it comes together in just a few minutes. I especially love this soup when I have a cold or am feeling under the weather. It clears conjestion and makes you feel better instantly. Chicken noodle soup has nothing on this one!”
- 1 oz package dried shitake mushrooms
- 3 cups hot water
- 4 cups no chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 jalepeno, diced (with seeds)
- 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (1 tsp if you like it less spicy, 2 if you’re adventerous)
- 6-8 oz extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch matchsticks or cubes
- 1/2 of 8oz can sliced bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 of 8 oz can sliced and peeled water chestnuts
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp water
- 6-7 green onions, sliced
- 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- cayenne to taste (optional)
- 1 cup cilantro plus extra for garnish
- In medium bowl, pour very hot water over mushrooms. Let sit for 20-30 minutes until reconstituted. Once reconstituted, reserve 2 cups of the water the mushrooms were soaking in. Cut off mushroom stems then slice in fairly large pieces (see photo below – each mushroom will yield about 4 slices).
- Meanwhile cut tofu into 1/4 – 1/2 inch matchsticks or cubes and dice jalepeno (do not discard seeds). Take half of the bamboo shoots from an 8oz can and cut into matchsticks. Take 1/2 of the sliced water chestnuts from an 8 oz can and slice any large pieces in half (see footnotes).
- Meanwhile, pour the 4 cups broth and 2 cups of the reserved mushroom liquid into a 3-4 quart pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add in sliced mushrooms, tofu, diced jalepeno, red pepper flakes, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add in rice viegar and soy sauce.
- Mix together cornstarch and 3 tbsp water and whisk until combined with no lumps. Slowly add half of the mixture to the soup then stir for a minute to thicken. If you desire a thicker texture, add in more corstarch (I usually add in about 2/3’s to all of the mixture).
- Add in green onions and sesame oil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste for heat and add in a few dashes of cayenne if you like. Add in cilantro and remove from heat.
- Garnish with additional cilantro and enjoy.
You do not need to press the moisture out of the tofu since you are using in a soup. Simply drain the water off when you take it out of the package. The tofu I buy comes in 12 oz packages so I use half a package and reserve the rest for another use.
Kids and adults alike usually love water chestnuts. Feel free to use the whole can if you like or nibble on the rest as you make the soup. Some of the water chestnuts come out of the can larger than others. I usually cut large slices in half.
I feel its important to use Shitake mushrooms in this. I also prefer dried to fresh as they seem to have a meatier texture and more vibrant taste. If you must use fresh, go for it but definitely use Shitake. The dried mushrooms make this a easy pantry dish using items most of us have in the pantry when our refrigerators are on the empty side of grocery week.
If you like it spicy, feel free to use another jalepeno or go for an spicier version such as habanero. Use the seeds as that is usually where the real “heat” is. Eliminate the seeds if you really aren’t into spicy foods, although this is called HOT and sour soup.
I like to substitute arrowroot for corstarch but either will work. Make sure to add in increments until you have the desired thickness. Hot and Sour soup is known and loved for its thick and creamy-like texture so usually I end up using all the cornstarch. If you use arrowroot you usually need less for the same result. If you use cornstarch, I’d recommend looking for a brand that is free of GMO’s.
Experiment with the hot (jalepeno) and sour (rice vinegar) ratios. If you like it less sour and more hot or vice versa just vary the ratios.
Once you add the cilantro, turn off the heat as you want to reserve that lemony flavor the cilantro will lose if cooked.