1. Put stock in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and set aside.
2. Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 3 cups of warm water, submerging all the pieces. Set aside for 15 minutes until mushrooms are reconstituted. Strain mushroom-infused liquid into the pot with the soup. Remove the tough central portion of the wood ear mushrooms and discard. Cut the wood ear and shiitake mushrooms into slivers and set aside.
3. Bring the stock and mushroom-infused water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Add mushrooms, ginger, and bamboo. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tofu and simmer until the tofu is warmed through, about 4 minutes longer.
4. Add the soy sauce and wine to the soup and stir gently, taking care not to break up the tofu.
5. Pour in the cornstarch slurry in a few additions, stirring to allow the liquid to thicken before adding more. The soup should be thick and glossy.
6. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar and pepper, adjusting according to your tastes. Serve immediately, garnished with scallions or cilantro.
Hot and sour soup uses ground white peppercorns rather than chili peppers as its "hot" element. Not a particularly fiery spice. For the sour side, it uses just a dash of vinegar made from sweet rice—a type of vinegar that finishes on a sweet, not overtly sour note. (Compare this with tom yum, which uses chili pepper, lemongrass, and lime for a thin broth that is spicy and tangy.)
So if the soup is not hot, and the soup is not sour, then what is it? Hot and sour soup is whatever good stock you have on hand, thickened with cornstarch, containing various bits of meat and vegetables, and finished with vinegar and white pepper. Hot and sour soup is not a thin soup. The liquid is so thick, in fact, that it almost slides across your tongue when you're sipping. That's probably one of my favorite things about the soup, the way the starch slurry adds substance without taste. It's a quality found in a lot of Chinese, particularly Cantonese soups, and it feels very soothing going down the gullet.
What kind of vinegar? Most recipes call for either Chinkiang vinegar, made from glutinous sweet rice, or red vinegar, also made from rice. Chinkiang vinegar is the balsamic of Chinese vinegars. It's sweet with a viscous, inky texture. Red vinegar is more acidic and sharp. I like both and use both depending on my mood.
You can vary what you add to your hot and sour soup. I usually use the dried mushrooms I have on hand: shiitake and wood ears, because I like the contrast between the juiciness of the shiitake and the crunch of wood ear mushrooms. (Wood ear mushrooms are just another kind of fungus; they are shriveled and black when you buy them as dry goods, but they unfurl quite dramatically when reconstituted in water.)
Bamboo and some sort of protein, such as slivers or pork, are common additions to hot and sour soup. Cubes of silken tofu taste good in there, as well as certain squashes, like zucchini. Most things would probably taste good in hot and sour soup. I think of the
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (417g)|
|Recipe Makes: 4 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 79 (25%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 8.7g||12 %|
|Saturated Fat 2.3g||12 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 4.2g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 1.6g|
|Cholesterol 21.6mg||7 %|
|Sodium 1033mg||36 %|
|Potassium 961.5mg||25 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 35.2g||10 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0.8g||3 %|
|Sugars, other 34.4g|
|Protein 19.3g||28 %|
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Calories per serving: 310
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