Food By Mom -- Hot 'n' Sour Soup

I *love* hot and sour soup, though I must say that most of the time when we get it as take-out, I add more hot and more sour. But I love it anyway. And for the last week or so I have had it in my head that I must make a big pot of it. 

Now, I confess that when my children were growing up, I didn't make this. And why would I when we had the most excellent Hu Shang restaurant just down the street? But now the Hu Shang is a thing of the past, gone since the owner was deported, and sadly the midcoast simply does not have a good or even fair Chinese restaurant. Which means a hot 'n' sour soup craving mom has to make it herself.

This recipe is cobbled together from a lot of different sources and is faithful to none of them. For starters, neither my husband nor I is particularly enamored of tofu. So no tofu in ours. And just as there are no great Chinese restaurants here on the coast, we have no Asian market either so I am using fresh rather than dried mushrooms. I have a package of lily buds, but I think it is around 15 years old so I'm not using them either. And I don't like bamboo shoots either so they won't be in my recipe. Therefore, it would be folly to think of this as an authentic hot 'n' sour soup. Think of it more as Hot 'n' Sour Soup in the style of a WASP in midcoast Maine.

4 cups chicken stock or broth -- I am using duck stock because we have some in the freezer. Always make stock when you can.

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 oz. cup cooked shredded pork

1 cup mushrooms -- I used shitake and baby bellas and cut them into large pieces

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 tablespoon garlic chili sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper -- I don't have white pepper so I am using regular black pepper

1/3-1/2 cup wine vinegar -- depends on how sour you like it

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 C sliced water chesnuts

2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water

1 egg, beaten

2 green onion stalks, diced (including tops)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons chili oil (to taste)

1. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic chili sauce and sugar in a bowl.

2. Mix the cornstarch into the water in a bowl.

3. Heat the peanut oil in a large pot.

4. Add the pork,  mushrooms, water chestnuts and saute for a minute.

5. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

6. Simmer for five minutes.

7. Add the vinegar mixture and the cornstarch mixture and stir until it thickens.

8. Beat egg in a cup until yolk and white are combined. Pour beaten egg slowly, in a fine stream into soup while stirring the soup.

9. Wait 30 seconds.

10. Stir in the green onions, sesame oil and chili oil. Stir well. Remove from heat.

Serve hot.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.