Hot and Sour Shiitake Mushroom Soup
By Toni Fiore author, the VegEZ VideoCookbook
Serves 4 to 6
6 cups vegetable stock or water
6–8 ounces firm tofu, cut into 2-inch strips or cut into cubes
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for about 15 minutes
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and cut into matchsticks
½ to 1 jalapeño or Thai pepper, diced
⅔ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3–4 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
6 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1–2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek, to taste
1–1½ cups chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
The most wonderful and surprising thing about this soup is how simple and quick it is to prepare. After you’ve done a little chopping, slicing and measuring, you’ll basically throw all of the ingredients into your pot and let the magic happen. Traditiona hot and sour soup is prepared with beef, pork or eggs, but I promise you won’t miss any of those in my vegan version. Reconstituted dry shiitake mushrooms add a wonderful chewy texture (and enhance the mushroom flavor), jalapeño pepper and fresh hot chili paste provide the heat, while unseasoned rice vinegar adds the perfect touch of tang. In keeping with the Asian theme, I serve the soup piping hot, garnished with fresh chopped scallions.
Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot and reduce to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Raise the heat to a boil; the soup will begin thickening. Stir in the scallions, oil, and Sambal Oelek. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
You may adjust starch for less or more thickening. The soy sauce and Sambel Oelek may also be adjusted to taste.