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Recipe: Nourishing, filling hot and sour chicken soup is a variation on the Chinese classic

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 1/5/2021 Nina Simonds
a bowl of soup on a table: Hot and Sour Chicken Soup. © Sheryl Julian Hot and Sour Chicken Soup.

Serves 4

Traditional Chinese hot and sour soup gets its heat from ground pepper and ginger and its sour taste from Chinese black vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce). This sumptuous chicken soup -- the classic is made with pork -- is loaded with shiitake mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, chicken thighs, and tofu to make nourishing, filling bowls. Cook the chicken first in stock and water, and once you've made a flavorful broth with all the vegetables and ginger, thicken the soup with cornstarch, and add the vinegar or Worcestershire plus generous twists of coarsely ground black pepper. You can make other versions with dried black mushrooms or porcini instead of shiitakes, and boneless pork loin instead of chicken. This pot serves four for dinner with plenty of seconds.

2large leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
tablespoons olive oil
1piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
5ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced
½small head of green or Savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
4cups chicken stock
6cups water
2 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1package (14 ounces) extra firm tofu, drained, halved crosswise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water
5tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
3tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Soak the leeks in cold water, shaking them in the water to remove the sand. With your hands, lift them from the water and transfer to a colander to drain.

2. In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, ginger, mushrooms, and cabbage. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened.

3. Add the chicken stock and water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a broil. Add the thighs and return the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and pulling away from the bones.

4. Remove the chicken from the broth and transfer to a plate. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat.

5. Return the chicken to the pot and bring the broth to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-high. Stir the cornstarch mixture so it is well blended. Slowly stir the cornstarch into the broth, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming, until the soup thickens. Add the tofu and simmer 3 minutes more.

6. Add the vinegar or Worcestershire, soy sauce, sesame oil, a generous pinch of salt, and many twists of the peppermill. The soup should be spicy with pepper. Turn the heat off and slowly add the beaten egg in one thin stream. Stir several times in one direction to create thin egg streams. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with scallions.

Nina Simonds

Serves 4

Traditional Chinese hot and sour soup gets its heat from ground pepper and ginger and its sour taste from Chinese black vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce). This sumptuous chicken soup -- the classic is made with pork -- is loaded with shiitake mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, chicken thighs, and tofu to make nourishing, filling bowls. Cook the chicken first in stock and water, and once you've made a flavorful broth with all the vegetables and ginger, thicken the soup with cornstarch, and add the vinegar or Worcestershire plus generous twists of coarsely ground black pepper. You can make other versions with dried black mushrooms or porcini instead of shiitakes, and boneless pork loin instead of chicken. This pot serves four for dinner with plenty of seconds.

2large leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
tablespoons olive oil
1piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
5ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced
½small head of green or Savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
4cups chicken stock
6cups water
2 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1package (14 ounces) extra firm tofu, drained, halved crosswise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water
5tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
3tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Soak the leeks in cold water, shaking them in the water to remove the sand. With your hands, lift them from the water and transfer to a colander to drain.

2. In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, ginger, mushrooms, and cabbage. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened.

3. Add the chicken stock and water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a broil. Add the thighs and return the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and pulling away from the bones.

4. Remove the chicken from the broth and transfer to a plate. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat.

5. Return the chicken to the pot and bring the broth to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-high. Stir the cornstarch mixture so it is well blended. Slowly stir the cornstarch into the broth, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming, until the soup thickens. Add the tofu and simmer 3 minutes more.

6. Add the vinegar or Worcestershire, soy sauce, sesame oil, a generous pinch of salt, and many twists of the peppermill. The soup should be spicy with pepper. Turn the heat off and slowly add the beaten egg in one thin stream. Stir several times in one direction to create thin egg streams. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with scallions.Nina Simonds

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