11 January 2012

RECIPE : Hot and Sour Soup

What keeps you toasty warm during the winter months? For me, it’s Sunday mornings by the fire, my Icebreaker wool camis and a few great recipes.  When the winter solstice has passed and the weather turns cold and dreary outside, our bodies begin to seek inner warmth. And what better way to warm your core on a long winter night than a fiery Chinese soup? Hot and sour soup, or Suan La Tang in Chinese, is a go to recipe that will bring you back to life when suffering through a cold and one of my favorite winter warming foods (along with this version of Chana Masala). There are many variations but I love this quick but delicious rendition from Saveur magazine. And according to Eastern traditions, you may find it to be just what the (Chinese) doctor ordered.

Suan La Tang
This recipe is based on one in Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine: The Fabulous Flavors & Innovative Recipes of North America’s Finest Chinese Cook by Susanna Foo and was printed in Saveur issue #89.


1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 lb. lean pork, cut into 1/4″ dice

3 tbsp. cornstarch
8 cups chicken or pork stock
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 cup cubed peeled taro or potato
6 shiitake or wood ear mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1/4″ dice
12 oz. firm tofu, drained and diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1. For the pork: Combine soy sauce, brandy, and cornstarch in a small bowl, add pork, and mix well. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

2. For the soup: Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Put stock, soy sauce, vinegar, white pepper, cayenne, and salt into a large pot. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Bring  to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pork, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup has thickened, about 30 minutes. Add taro or potatoes, mushrooms, and tofu and gently simmer until taro or potatoes are tender, 15—20 minutes.

3. Slowly drizzle egg into simmering soup in a thin, steady stream (don’t stir as you pour, or egg will form lumps). When egg strands float to surface, stir in oil. Garnish soup with cilantro.


make ahead tip – I like to double the amount of pork, dice it, and freeze half for a future batch of soup, reducing the overall prep time next time around.

make it vegetarian by omitting the pork (step 1) and replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth