This is one of my favorite soups and fairly simple to make. It just takes a few steps and some prep.
Hot and Sour Soup (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
Servings: about 6-8 (and freezes well)
7 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch, plus an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons
1 (8 ounce) boneless center cut pork chop, about 1/2 inch thick and sliced in julienne strips (or I’ve used 1lb ground pork)
3 tablespoons cold water, plus 1 additional teaspoon
1 large egg
6 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
1 small can bamboo shoots, sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips (from one 5-ounce can)
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick (I also add a can of straw mushrooms)
1/4 cup black vinegar (or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar – but it’s worth finding black vinegar at an Asian market for the authentic flavor)
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
3 medium scallions, sliced thin
Place tofu on a pie plate and set a heavy plate on top. Weight with 2 heavy cans; let stand at least 15 minutes (tofu should release about 1/2 cup liquid). Whisk 2 tablespoons soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in medium bowl; toss pork with marinade and set aside for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 30 minutes).
Combine 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water in small bowl and mix thoroughly; set aside.
Mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with remaining 1 teaspoon water in small bowl; add egg and beat with fork until combined. Set aside.
Bring broth to boil in large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add bamboo shoots and mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. While broth simmers, dice tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Add tofu and pork, including marinade, to soup, stirring to separate any pieces of pork that stick together. Continue to simmer until pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. IF using ground pork, I sauté the pork first, then add my mushrooms, bamboo shoots and then add the broth when the pork is cooked. Then I add the tofu.
Stir cornstarch mixture to recombine. Add to soup and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens and turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, pepper, and remaining soy sauce, sugar; lower heat. At this point, adjust the heat or amount of vinegar and soy to your liking. I usually end up adding more of all of them, the vinegar, soy, sugar and chili oil! More flavor!
Without stirring soup, use soup spoon to slowly drizzle very thin streams of egg mixture into pot in circular motion. Let soup sit 1 minute, then increase to medium-high heat. Bring soup to gentle boil, then immediately remove from heat. Gently stir soup once to evenly distribute egg; ladle into bowls and top with scallions.