Californsky Kitchen: Hot and sour soup to shut out the winter

Californsky Kitchen: Hot and sour soup to shut out the winter

The temperature reached 61 degrees in Anchorage yesterday, and the state climatologist wrote on Twitter that winter is officially behind us.

I always look forward to spring. When I was growing up, April brought more sunshine, melted snow and it signaled the end of the long school year.

This year, however, spring is more welcome than ever. For many people, the last year has come with longing and grief of all kinds, and it feels as if we are only just now coming out of the darkness and seeing the light of spring at the end of the tunnel. I am fully vaccinated, and have summer clothes out and ready to go.

I feel hopeful for this summer and energetic to do things outside with all the friends and family I have missed for so long.

As the sun stands longer and the ice in our yard melts away, I also assess our pantry. We have so much box broth and broth which is great to have on hand for quick soups to warm up with. So my goal with this week’s column is to rid my pantry of some of our stock and broth, while also cleaning some other pantry staples as well as some of the vegetables in our fridge. I also wanted to make soup before it got too hot to enjoy it.

This is a hot and sour soup recipe and you can change the amounts of the spicy and sour flavors to make the soup completely to your liking. I started doing this in college because it’s pretty easy and it felt very comforting.

I love Americanized Chinese food and this is a kind of classic that can be easily copied at home. My favorite part is how thick the soup is, made possible by the cornstarch slurry. I also love the egg strips, they are delicate and add a nice touch to a bowl of hot soup.

Feel free to add your favorite vegetables and proteins to this soup. This is usually what I have around and is a great base for riffing on and making your own version.

Hot and sour soup

8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

8 ounce mushrooms, baby bell or whatever you have around will work (I use fried morels picked from Swan Lake’s firewood area.)

¼ cup rice vinegar or more to taste

¼ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

¼ cup cornstarch

3 large eggs, beaten

8 ounces of solid tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes (You can also use chicken or the protein you have around and want to use.)

4 green onions, cut into thin slices

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Reserve 1⁄4 cup of broth or broth, and whisk in the cornstarch until you have a slurry mixture. Set aside for later use.

Put a pan on the stove and heat to medium-high. Add broth or broth, mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili garlic sauce and cook until the soup boils up. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook for about a minute, or until the soup thickens.

Slowly pour the beaten eggs into the soup while slowly stirring the soup. The thinner the stream, the more egg strips you have in your soup. Then taste the soup to your liking and garnish with extra chopped green onions.

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