It finally hit me. The flu–yes that one. Where you think you might be able to get out of bed while lying very still (in bed) but then put two feet on the floor, feel dizzy and realize, “nope, not getting out”. I drank a lot of tea with lemon and nibbled buttered toast and then pulled out the big guns. Hot and Sour Soup. A step beyond comfy chicken soup, like the Buckley’s of cough syrup–except it tastes great. And it works.
I’d discovered the recipe in October issue of Saveur, “150 Classic Recipes” which I have a subscription for on my iPad. The whole issue is amazing and inspiring and mouth-watering but I had never made Hot and Sour Soup and what a great skill to have I though! The recipe is from the December 2005 issue and the little blurb I missed the first time around explained that, “Other cultures soothe their sick with bland milk toast and chicken broth but the Chinese kick their sick in the pants. This soup doesn’t just warm you, it burns through you and brings you back to life.”- Mei Chin
Back to Life is just what this self-diagnosing patient needed.
So I began with marinating the pork. Cut 4 oz pork tenderloin in 1/4″ cubes and toss with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp brandy and 1 tsp corn starch. I didn’t have brandy so used Madeira. Let it sit 15 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile make the broth-in a large pot whisk together 8 cups chicken stock, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp corn starch, 1 tsp ground white pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp cayenne. (I used a pinch of red pepper flakes). Bring that to a boil over medium-high and add the pork. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the soup thickens–about 30 minutes. Give it an occasional stir.
Meanwhile you can cut 12 oz of firm tofu (drain and press lightly) into 1/4″ cubes. Do the same with a potato to get about 1/4 cup cubed.
Take 6 shiitake mushrooms and cut them into thin strips.
Now add your tofu, potato and mushrooms to the pot once the soup is thickened and cook until the potatoes are tender.
Now for the best part of the job! Lightly beat 1 egg in a bowl and drizzle it into the simmering soup in a thin steady stream–egg strands will start to float to the surface and you will feel that YES, you see it all coming together. Now stir in 1 tsp toasted sesame oil.
**I add about a teaspoon of Mirin at the very end, just rounds out the flavour for me with a hint of sweetness.
Ladle into a bowl and garnish with cilantro. Eat in bed for lunch and again for dinner. And of course, you should not be making this yourself, you are far too weak. Your spouse, partner, mailman or cat is more than capable of following these simple directions.
For the recipe on-line at Saveur click on HOT AND SOUR SOUP RECIPE.