How to make hot and sour soup?
I used to make it many years ago, but haven't recently. The way I approached it was to study all of the several recipes in Chang and Kutscher, then improvise my own based on those.
My secret ingredient, which I had success with, was "preserved vegetable" (what kind of vegetable this is, I have no idea). It comes in cans in Chinese groceries. I would slice it in long, thin pieces. It goes in early, as it will survive any amount of cooking.
I also used to use sour bamboo shoots, which were sliced very thin and packed in vinegar in cans. But I was told by a Chinese friend that it was intended for some other dish than soup, so I'm not recommending it.
I'd love to find a fairly simple recipe. All the recipes I've found have a very long list of ingredients. When I had a bad cold recently and all the local Chinese restaurants were closed for the day, I made a late night trek to the grocery store and picked up a package of Kikkoman's Egg Flower Hot and Sour soup. Just added water, one beaten egg and some bamboo shoots and it was surprisingly good. Better than I've had at some restaurants. A little pricey, almost $5 for one package, but nice to have in a pinch.
Here is the one I use when I want take out style.
Panda Express Hot and Sour Soup
This is a clear broth soup flavored with vinegar, white pepper, chili garlic sauce and sesame oil.
It contains button mushrooms, sliced tofu and diced green onions.
The Asian ingredients are available on the Asian foods aisle of many supermarkets.
6 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
6 Tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced (fresh or canned)
2 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce
1/3 tsp ground white pepper
3 Tbsp cornstarch and 3 tablespoons cold water
1 egg, beaten
6 oz firm tofu, diced into (2-in long x 1/4-in wide x 1/8-inch thick strips)
2 green onion stalks, diced (including green tops)
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 tsp sesame oil
Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a 3-quart saucepan.
Add soy sauce, sliced button mushrooms, Chili Garlic Sauce and white pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Combine 3 Tbsp of cornstarch with 3 Tbsp of cold water in a cup. Stir until mixture is smooth.
Add cornstarch mixture to hot soup and stir well. Simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until soup is thickened.
Beat egg in a cup until yolk and white are combined. Pour beaten egg slowly, in a fine stream, into soup.
Stir soup slowly several times. Stop stirring and wait 30 seconds for egg to cook.
Add tofu strips and green onions to soup. Stir well. Remove from heat.
Add distilled white vinegar and sesame oil.
Stir a few times and serve hot.
Makes about 6 cups. Serves 4 to 6