I’ve been sick for about two-and-a-half of the last three weeks, and it has not been fun. I wake up every day hoping to feel less congested, less headache-y, less bleh. Sure, I could go to the doctor’s, but as someone who is allergic to penicillin, it’s usually worthless, a trek in for the doctor to tell me I am not going to feel well for awhile and should rest.
The one thing that always makes me feel better when I have a sore throat and stuffy nose is hot and sour soup, preferably from Myers + Chang. After ordering hot and sour soup more than once last week and luxuriating in the ability to breathe after it’s spicy steaminess, I set out over the weekend to make my own.
In addition to my regular grocery store, I also visited Kam Nan Foods, a giant Asian food market with lots of ingredients from other regions of the world as well. They have aisles of sauces, dried mushrooms, veggies and fruits I have never seen, and much of it is very inexpensive. It was amazing.
I based my own soup off of a Hot and Sour Soup recipe from Food Network, making a few changes once I knew the main ingredients. The recipe is at the end of the post.
My main swap was using store-bought chicken stock instead of making my own. I love making stock, but not feeling well won over more time spent on my feet. Instead, I added crushed garlic, onion, green onion, and ginger to my boxed stock and simmered it while I chopped and readied everything else.
I rinsed my bamboo shoots and rehydrated my mushrooms. I was a little overwhelmed by the entire aisle of dried mushrooms and could not find wood ears so I grabbed shitakes. They were delicious.
When all of my ingredients were ready, I removed the big add-ins from the stock and started building the soup, which smelled amazing as it cooked. You could really smell the chili paste and rice vinegar.
I simmered the soup on low for about an hour, let it cool and put away for the night. To serve the next day, I ladled two servings into a pot and heated until almost boiling and slowly stirred in two beaten eggs until they were cooked. Once the soup was in bowls, I added sriracha, green onions, and cilantro for an extra pop.
This soup is really the ultimate cold and flu season comfort. It is light and full of flavor; breathing in its spicy steam makes everything a little better. Between the soup, some cough medicine, and lots of sleep, I hope to finally kick this thing one of these days.
Do you have a favorite cold remedy?
- 4 dried Chinese fungi (about 1 ounce), such as wood ears or cloud ears
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
- 1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced
- 1/4 pound barbecued pork, shredded
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Pinch sugar
- 2 quarts Chinese Chicken Stock, recipe follows
- 1 square firm tofu, drained and sliced in 1/4-inch strips
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Chopped green onions and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, wood ears, bamboo shoots, and pork; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl, pour it into the wok and toss everything together – it should smell really fragrant. Pour in the Chinese Chicken Stock, bring the soup to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for 3 minutes.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Mix the slurry into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a steady stream and watch it spin around and feather in the broth (it should be cooked almost immediately.) Garnish the hot and sour soup with chopped green onions and cilantro before serving.
Chinese Chicken Stock:
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 1 bunch green onions, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger, whacked open with the flat side of a knife
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
- About 3 quarts cold water
Put the chicken in a large stockpot and place over medium heat. Toss in the green onions, garlic, ginger, onion, and peppercorns. Pour about 3 quarts of cold water into the pot to cover the chicken by 1-inch. Simmer gently for 1 hour, uncovered, skimming off the foam on the surface periodically.
Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and pass the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the solids and excess fat. Cool the chicken stock to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator, or chill it down over ice first.
Yield: About 2 quarts