I swear, hot and sour soup really could be the cure for the common cold. Mind you, I make this just because we love it, think of it as ‘preventative’ medicine. Our story of how we came to love this soup is at the bottom of this blog. Nothing annoys me more than just wanting to get to the recipe and having to scroll way down to find it. So, without further ado – I present you Hot and Sour Soup.
There are just a few tips on making this wonderful soup.
- Do not just throw everything in the pot at the same time – the ingredients need to be added in a certain order for the flavors to develop correctly. (Ask me how I know this!)
- If you have everything ready to go, this soup comes together in a flash. I prep the ingredients and line them up on the counter next to the stove in the order they will be added.
- The bamboo shoots can be purchased in strips, I highly recommend this as it saves a bundle of time. Also, Tao told me to soak the bamboo shoots in boiling water to remove the ‘tinny’ taste, the only ingredients listed on the can are bamboo shoots and water but I do soak them, as he instructed.
- Black fungus strips? Yes, they are dehydrated and look funny but they are just mushrooms (fungus) and they do really belong in this soup. You can use fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly if you prefer.
I was introduced to Hot and Sour Soup in 1978 at a wonderful restaurant called Mr Pings in Garden Grove. No Baking Papa had been introduced to this place by his friend Tom, who had a far more adventurous attitude about food than he did. After several lunches with Tom doing all the ordering, NB Papa was hooked. They became lunchtime regulars and a steaming bowl of Hot and Sour soup was always on the table before they even ordered.
At that time, date nights were rare and reserved for very special occasions. We had a two year old and I was pregnant with our second child. He was so excited to take me to Mr. Pings for dinner that we made up an excuse to celebrate, hired a babysitter and headed to Mr Pings. He did all the ordering, which was very unusual but he knew his way around the menu. I still remember every dish we had that night.
He insisted that Hot and Sour soup was the best thing he had ever tasted. It was not love at first bite for me. I kept sipping at the soup as he was raving about how delicious it was. By the time I finished my soup I decided it was wasn’t too bad. It must be an acquired taste and to not dampen his enthusiasm I lied and said I loved it.
About a week before my due date I developed a horrid head cold. My sinuses were completely blocked and I could barely breathe. The owner of Mr. Pings must have overheard NB Papa and Tom discussing this over lunch and presented NB Papa with a quart container of Hot and Sour soup for him to take home to me. “This special soup, it have extra healing for her.”
As I heated the soup, stirring and breathing the vinegary steam my nose began to run. I sipped on the steaming soup I could feel my sinuses loosening up. I could blow my nose!
I tried many times to re-create that miracle soup, all were dismal failures. Nothing I made even came close to Mr. Pings creation. That is until I ‘met’ Tao, RN on AllRecipes. Tao is originally from China and posted two versions of Hot and Sour Soup. From his recipes I was able to fool with the ‘formula’ and managed to come up with something very very close to that very special soup of yesteryear.