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Author Notes: Hot and sour soup (suanla tang in Chinese) is one of my all-time favorite soups. I think the secret to making a good version is to have a very flavorful broth. With the autumn chill settling into Boston, I like to infuse my broth with warm spices -- star anise, ginger, and cinnamon. Chicken, duck, or beef broth all work well. The pork may be substituted with shredded boiled chicken or thinly sliced beef strips. —student epicure
Serves 6-8 as part of a multicourse meal
- 8 cups broth (see headnote)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 inch knob ginger, unpeeled, cut into coins
- 4 black wood ear mushrooms
- 8 dried mushrooms
- 1 ounce dried bean thread noodles
- 4 ounces lean pork, such as loin, thinly sliced in strips
- 8 ounces firm tofu, sliced into strips
- 1 cup green or napa cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch, dissolved in 3 T cold water
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
- Heat the stock. Place bay leaves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, both types of peppercorns, star anise and ginger in the stock and simmer gently for an hour. Strain spices and discard them.
- Meanwhile, soak mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes until soft. Thinly slice. Reserve soaking liquid and add to broth with mushrooms.
- Soak bean thread noodles for 10 minutes in hot water. Cut in half with scissors and drain. Set aside.
- Bring stock to a lower simmer and add pork, tofu, and cabbage. Let cook for 10 minutes so cabbage is very tender.
- Now season the soup. Add vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and white pepper. Taste and adjust for sour, salty, and spicy.
- Add egg, stirring to distribute.
- Serve with scallions sprinkled on top.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Autumn Soup
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