LOOKING for: Asian soups: Hot & Sour and the like

sally2_gwDecember 24, 2003

I love Hot and Sour Soup, Egg Drop Soup and the like, and even have come across some soups at Chinese Restaurants I hoped were vegetarian, such as tofu soup, that I really liked. Does anyone know how to prepare these soups vegetarian style? I will eat eggs that are raised humanely. What give them that certain flavor? I hope not MSG! I'm wondering if it might be lots and lots of garlic? Any receipies would be appreciated!


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Hot and Sour gets it's flavor from vinegar (often cider vinegar) and chili (generally dried or in the form of a garlic-chili sauce commonly available in asian markets), as you would expect. Most egg drop is a simple chicken stock flavored with soy and green onion and filled with egg "flowers" that are made by letting thin streams of beaten egg run down a fork or chopsticks into simmering soup. The soups you mentioned are interesting because they are quite different: hot and sour being very bold and hearty, egg drop being much lighter. I think a commonality to those two, and something you might be attracted to without realizing it, is that they are both typically thickened with a cornstarch slurry, which gives them a fairly distinct mouthfeel and thickness. Generally speaking, MSG is not used as commonly in Chinese restaurants as one might think; most savvy restaurant owners have responded to western concerns about MSG by going to MSG-free menus. However, using chicken stock is pretty typical in chinese restaurants, so if you are strict, I would ask what the stock base is for any soup before assuming even something as friendly-sounding as tofu soup is truly vegetarian. Both types of soup you mentioned could easilly be adjusted for an ovo-vegetarian diet. In fact, when I googled "Hot and Sour Soup Recipe" the first two results I got were from vegetarian sources. I'm linking to a list of Asian Soups that includes 35 hot and sour soups and 12 egg drop soups...it's pretty comprehensive, and will give you a good place to start. I also know there are cookbooks dedicated to Vegetarian Chinese cooking...perhaps someone who does more vegetarian cooking than I can recommend one. Good Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Asian Soup Recipes

    Bookmark   January 11, 2004 at 3:41AM
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Your response is very informative. Thank you for taking the time to research and respond. I love soup of all kinds, both bold and light. I didn't know that about the cornstarch. It makes sense. Thanks again.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2004 at 9:17AM
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Here's one I've been craving lately.

Fresh Noodles LoMein
1 TBLSP dark sesame oil (look for this in the asian section of the supermarket, it is a specialty product but REALLY adds a wonderful flavor to the soup.)
1/2 lb. firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 vegetable bouillon cubes
5-6 cups water (start with the smaller amount and add more if it seems to sparse. You might want to add more boullion to taste.)
1 TBLSP grated fresh ginger root. (I hardly ever have fresh ginger root around, so I imagine you could use 1 tsp. or less of the dried, ground ginger)
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 TBLSP teriyaki sauce (I dunno, if you don't have teriyaki perhaps some soy sauce, cider vinegar and brown sugar? I have teriyaki around usually for stir fry. I think plain soy sauce would work just as well if you want a milder taste, I get the low salt kind.)
1 large clove garlic, minced or equivalent garlic powder (I use the minced garlic in a jar)
8 oz. linguine or buckwheat noodles. (The buckwheat noodles are soooo yummy. You might be able to find them in the asian section of your local market. I get them at the health food store. They really make the soup, but you can use wheat linguini pasta too. I break the long noodles up into four section before adding to the soup, makes it easier to slurp up!)
1 bag of oriental style frozen veggies (or whatever you like fresh--carrots, onion, broccoli, peas, chopped pea pods, baby corn, bok choy, etc.)
1 scallion, sliced

I have a crockpot which I use to make almost all my soup now, but you can make this the regular way, simmer all the ingredients together and boil til veggies are tender. Add noodles and cook until they are done. Garnish at the end with the chopped scallion. I might add some green stuff like spinach for more vitamins and color or mild red pepper, which you definatly don't want to simmer in the crockpot for very long.

Here's one more I have never made because I don't use Miso enough to have it around. I might try and get some though, because it is very good for you. Maybe you can get powdered miso. Anyway, here it is for what it's worth.

Miso Soup
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 onion, sliced
pinch salt
5 cups water or veg bouillon
1 cup chopped leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.)
1 carrot, sliced
2 TBLSP miso (or to taste)

Saute onion in oil. When onion is slightly transparent, add salt and water and remaining vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Dilute miso with a few tablespoons of the soup broth and stir into the soup. Or let each person add their own miso at the table. Cover the pot and let steep for about 5 minutes. The miso should NOT BOIL, as this desrotys the valuable enzymes in the miso.
Serves four

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 10:07AM
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Is that similar to Ramen noodles? It sounds yummy, and I shouldn't have any trouble finding all the ingredients. Thanks. I'll have to think about the miso soup. That's one Asian soup I haven't quite developed a taste for, yet. It's way too salty, or something, for me.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2004 at 9:23AM
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I noticed that the last time I had hot and sour soup (which had chicken, indidentally) it seemed to have three different kinds of fungi in it. I am a little overwhelmed when I go to the asian grocery and I am not sure what kinds to get. I saw that oneof the veg. recipes said "dried asian mushrooms". But that seemed so general. I want to know their real names.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2004 at 3:03PM
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I was at Whole Foods yesterday, and looking at all kinds of very expensive, odd looking fungi. I wonder if it's the kinds that are supposed to go into these soups. They were in the neighborhood of $25/pound. I don't remember what they were called, but they looked kind of like sea coral. A little too pricey for my pocketbook!


    Bookmark   February 10, 2004 at 8:31AM
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I got the recipe from pink mountain...cant wiat to try it!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 10:34PM
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I frequently make vegetarian versions of Asian soups, & it's very simple.

Just substitute cubed firm or extra-firm tofu for any meat the recipe asks for. Instead of chicken, beef, or pork broth, use your favorite vegetable broth. All the veggies & spicing remains the same.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 6:48PM
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Thanks, breezyb.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 7:52PM
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