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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

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To truly experience the wondrous joy of Chinese New Year (this year being the Year of the Horse), one must surround themselves with color, joy, laughter and great food. You don't have to be Chinese to celebrate this festive time of the year and many cities across American will be holding parades to honor the Year of the Horse during the 15-day celebration. Personally, I can't think of a better way of celebrating than with some classic dishes from China (real Chinese food, not Americanized Chinese food).

If you go into any Chinese restaurant you will see a version of this dish on the menu. Each of the various cuisines associated with the culinary arts of China has their take on this soup and the only thing they really have in common is the fact they are hot and they have an acidic (sour) aura to them. Unfortunately, most are also American versions of this classic soup.

This particular hot and sour soup is of the Mandarin cuisine. It is indeed authentic, yet there have been a few adaptations for the American kitchen. As opposed to the Americanized versions of this soup, this is actually more substance than broth. You still have that wonderful tongue tantalizing taste, but you also get spoonfuls of hearty and healthy ingredients in every bite.

One of the reasons I prefer Chinese style soups is the fact they actually have texture. As with their style of cooking, vegetables are meant to retain their natural taste, meaning they are never over-cooked and always have that fresh feel with each and every bite.

Ingredients needed for make Chinese Hot and Sour Soup (serves 4):

  • ½ cup pork meat, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup smoked ham, cut into thin strips
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 dried black mushrooms, soaked, drained and julienned
  • 1 cup cubed extra firm tofu
  • ¼ cup bamboo shoots, rinsed
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 ½ Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil

Steps:

  1. In a small pot of boiling water add the pork and ham and cook 4 minutes. Drain the meat and discard the cooking liquid.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium heat. Add the pork, ham, mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, carrot, green onion, salt and sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs (DO NOT STIR, JUST POUR) and let the beaten eggs makes their own strands for 1 minute and then stir the soup.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and ¼ cup water until the cornstarch as dissolved.
  5. Into the soup stir the soy sauce, vinegar and oil. Whisk in the cornstarch until the creamy color is gone and the soup has thickened.
  6. Ladle into bowls and serve.

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