Archive for June 10, 2006

Crazy Mixed-Up Hot and Sour Soup

Dried Cloud Ears, Matsutake Mushrooms, and Tiger Lily Buds

Clockwise from bottom: dried matsutake mushrooms, dried lily buds, dried shredded wood ears.


My son heard the camera in the kitchen ~~ always my undoing.

As usual, he came right in to laugh at me for taking pics of food on stove. Leaned over, peeked in pot, and asked what I was cooking.

“Soup”! I said.

“Chicken noodle soup”? he asked, eager eyes lighting up…

“No honey… does this look like any chicken you ever saw”?!

Off he went, pouting. Didn’t even stop to make fun of me for taking pics… but I did hear him muttering “crazy mixed-up soup… ”

I’ll have to make that boy some chicken soup this weekend.

Reconstituted Veggies and Lemongrass

Clockwise from bottom: reconstituted matsutake mushrooms, lily buds, and wood ears, with lemongrass running through.


Wood ears (or black fungus) and lily buds have little flavor of their own. I find the wood ears completely tasteless. Lily buds can have a very subtle, almost smoky flavor. They are used mainly to add crunchy texture to Chinese dishes ~ often in contrast to soft tofu. Don’t let the name ‘fungus’ put you off ~ it’s harmless and good to eat! Wood ears and lily buds can be found in a Chinese market.

If you have good vegetable broth on hand, substitute that for the water.

Crazy Mixed-Up Hot and Sour Soup

1/4 c dried wood ears
1/4 c dried lily buds
1/4 c dried mushrooms, preferably oriental (shiitake, matsutake, black chinese, etc)

Rinse the wood ears and lily buds in boiling water, then cover with fresh boiling water and let sit 30 min or so until softened.

Cover dried mushrooms with boiling water but don’t rinse ~ let them sit 30 min as well.

Once reconstituted, drain wood ears and if whole, remove hard end and cut into thin shreds. Drain lily buds. Drain mushrooms, and reserve their liquid (avoid any liquid at very bottom in case it contains grit).

1 tsp oil, corn, safflower, peanut etc
a drop of sesame oil
1 TB minced garlic
1 TB minced ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed and reserved, soft inner bulb end sliced thin
1 dried red chili pepper
12-15 grinds fresh black pepper (or healthy 1/2 tsp)
1/4 c pineapple, preferably fresh, chopped fine
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/2 c rice vinegar (unseasoned – available in many groceries)
1 1/2 – 2 c water
reserved mushroom soaking liquid
salt to taste

Optional additions

2 eggs, beaten well with 2 TB water
1 c baby spinach leaves
1/3 block firm tofu, cubed

Cage Free Eggs and Yummy Tofu

In a saucepan, heat the oils and add garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Saute these a few minutes, then add the mushrooms and saute a few minutes longer until starting to brown. Add some reserved outer lemongrass leaves in large pieces (for easy removal after cooking) and the dried chili and pineapple. Reduce heat to medium low and cook 5 minutes. Add drained wood ears, lily buds, and remaining ingredients through salt. Stir well to remove any browned, flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan, then cover and simmer 20 minutes. Taste again and correct the seasoning. The lemongrass will make this quite sour, but rice vinegar lends a subtle sweetness. Add more pepper if it needs heat to balance. Remove the whole chili and the large, tough lemongrass pieces.

Hot and Sour Soup Cooking

Soup can now be served as is, or for a more substantial dish, add the optional eggs, spinach, and tofu. To do so, bring soup to a boil and drizzle the beaten egg/water in slowly, stirring continuously to break up the egg. Add spinach and tofu, reduce heat and allow to warm through.

Tart and Tasty Hot and Sour Soup

Enjoy tart and tasty hot and sour soup on a cold rainy evening in January. Or June, depending on which part of the world you’re in ~ here in New England it’s been a long, chilly spring.


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