I have been a fan of hot and sour soup for as long as I can remember. I would take a piping hot & spicy bowl over veg noodle soup any day of the week. Even in our pre-plant based days, this particular soup got my vote over chicken noodle. During cold and flu season I find myself making lots of nourishing soup recipes, to help boost my immune system and keep me warm and toasty when temperatures are dropping outside.
I tried quite a few recipes before discovering the Bamboo Shoot Recipe out of Buddha's Table, by Chat Mingkwan. While the cookbook is technically Thai (and one of the best cookbooks for Thai food I might add, vegan or otherwise, with from scratch chili pastes and all kinds of delicious recipes) I have found this recipe to be the closest to my preferred version of Hot & Sour. There are so many variations, the sky really is the limit. I like Schezuan style, which is tangy and very spicy, with a brown broth.
I have based this recipe loosly on the one in Buddha's Table, with lots of variations and a few ingredient swaps. I adjusted proportions, and swapped out white vinegar for apple cider, which I consider to be a much healthier alternative, given its many benefits and uses. Chinese Black Vinegar is used traditionally, however I have done too much reading on food colouring, especially caramel colouring to be comfortable using it. I also swapped white sugar for coconut sugar, and have used fermented tamari in place of conventional soy sauce. I have swapped arrowroot starch for corn starch, as corn products often contain gmo's and I find arrowroot starch works just as well. Your soup may not retain its thick texture with storage - however this is one recipe that holds up really well the next day as leftovers, as the flavours have a chance to infuse even more in the fridge.
By adding burdock, daikon and a whole slew of immune boosting ingredients in the broth, I am attempting to take the soup from delicious and nourishing to a powerhouse of nutrition. You can still reap all kinds of benefits with a regular vegetable stock, and please feel free to substitute any ingredients you may not be able to find locally. Asian groceries are often a good resource for some of the harder to find ingredients, but things like fresh burdock (aka gobo) may not be available everywhere. And yes, I did include a couple of canned ingredients, as I feel the soup benefits from bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, but you can always leave them out or try to find them fresh instead. Lotus root would be another lovely addition to this soup.
I have included a recipe for a DIY chili infused sesame oil, loosely based on a chili infused olive oil recipe I found on John Gallagher's Herb Mentor site. I have mentioned this site before; it is an amazing resource for all things herbal, including many fantastic recipes.
Hot and Sour Soup Recipe
Hot & Sour Stock
1 batch Nourishing Vegetable Broth, with the following ingredients added:
1 tbsp szechuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tbsp star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 jalapeno (optional)
I love to let this soup stock cook in a slow cooker for 4 hours on low - you can also follow directions for pressure cooking or a quicker slow cook time (high for 2 hours)
Use 6 cups of this stock for the recipe, and store the remainder in the fridge or freezer for later use.
2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 cup leek, washed and thinly diced
1 cup daikon, diced
1/2 cup burdock, peeled and diced
1/2 cup carrot, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2' piece ginger, grated
2 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
6 cups hot & sour stock
1 350 g package organic tofu, cubed
1 small can bamboo shoots, sliced
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup tamari (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, sliced
Sliced thai chilis (optional)
Chili infused sesame oil (optional - see recipe below)
Saute vegetables with garlic and ginger in avocado oil until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add 6 cups stock, cubed tofu, along with drained & rinsed bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add seasoning (apple cider vinegar, tamari, coconut sugar & black pepper), and stir to combine. Whisk together arrowroot powder and cold water, and add to the soup, whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Garnish with sliced green onion, cilantro, thai chili and chili infused sesame oil as desired. Serve immediately.
Chili Infused Sesame Oil
1 cup organic sesame oil
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 small thai chili, sliced (or a pinch of cayenne)
1 small clove garlic, crushed
pinch smoked (or plain) sea salt
Slightly warm sesame oil over medium-low heat. Combine all ingredients in an opaque jar, seal the lid, shake and let sit for at least 2 weeks, to allow oil to infuse.
What is your favourite comfort soup during the winter/cold season?