I came across chinese hot and sour soup when I first developed my chinese restaurant habit in the late 80’s when I lived in London. I don’t know where I first had it, but the moment that combination of heat and sourness hit my tastebuds I was hooked. It’s a great soup to do at home because you can replicate a restaurant taste without a huge number of specialist ingredients. If you have bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms around then by all means use them, but if not it’s a great ‘what have I got in the fridge’ soup. I vary the ingredients practically every time I make it, so please just take this ingredients list as a suggestion not definitive list. There are three things I always include – mushrooms, carrots and peas. It has to have peas. This is in honour of the time I was eating it in Poons off Leicester Square (my favourite restaurant at the time, now sadly gone), thinking that my mouth was on fire and realising that what I had taken for peas in the soup were actually rings of green birdseye chilli.
It’s low fat (or no fat if you leave the sesame oil off), packed with veggies, quick to make and the taste will knock your socks off. What’s not to like?
750ml vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 medium carrot, cut into fine matchsticks (or grated)
75g mushrooms, sliced
25g frozen peas
25g frozen sweetcorn
1/2 gem lettuce, finely shredded
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
1 handful beansprouts
Add the stock, garlic, ginger, chilli, soy sauce and vinegar to a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the carrot, mushrooms, peas, sweetcorn and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
Keeping the soup at a simmer, add the lettuce and spring onion.
Add the cornflour and stir until the soup thickens a little.
Turn off the heat and mix in the beansprouts.
Serve, drizzled with a little sesame oil.