Friday, February 17, 2012

Eternal Spring Hot and Sour Soup

Warily, you watch those around you. Bundled up to keep from the chill, tissues and lozenges close at hand. Wash, duck, weave. Ingesting Airborn and Vitamin C hoping to dodge the latest bug that seems always "going around." Headstrong denial at the first hint of scratchy throat quickly fades into reality as the rest of cold's symptoms set in. Yup, you caught it.

Eating or even preparing food seems absurd. Soup and rest, please just give me soup and rest. Not just any soup, my body cries out for Chinese Hot and Sour, savory, intense and sinus clearing. Some say that a mother's homemade chicken soup will cure what ails you, and I couldn't agree more. Like a magic elixir instilling hope and recovery with each spoonful. Taking the traditional recipe and adding anti-oxidant rich spinach, fresh ginger with it's digestive benefits, daikon radish for treating cough, mushrooms high in Vitamin D and a pinch of cayenne for sinus clearing makes me believe that even in the midst of winter, spring is eternal, and I will get there. This is my kind of comfort food.

Eternal Spring Hot and Sour Soup Pin It

Feeling better and stepping out in the coolness of late afternoon sun, I am greeted by our blooming Hellebores. Serene creamy white blossoms with a hint of pink freckles cheer me immensely as these lovelies bloom when most plants are cold and dormant. To be that tough, beautiful and resilient.

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Rose bloom from December to March.

A note about this post:

Every once in a while I like to cook along with my virtual friends. This is a fun way to have an online potluck and share recipes with a common theme -- but with uncommon results. Foodies from all over participate in these Monthly Mingles started in 2006 by Meeta @What's For Lunch, Honey. Grab a cup of Joe and pull up a chair and enjoy this month's mingle.

Monthly Mingle - Heart Healthy 

"What does Heart Healthy mean?  Foods that heal and boost our health. From whole grains, to Omega 3's. Lots of good fats and fruit and veg.  Low-sodium and low-cholesterol. Everyone thinks that all results in boring food. This month our challenge is to create delicious food that won't only warm the heart but keep it healthy." Check out the submissions after February 29, 2012 hosted by LadyRaven at Add to Taste.

This version of hot and sour soup uses low salt, low fat everything without compromising the savory flavor. To me that has to be heart healthy!

Eternal Spring Hot and Sour Soup
Serves 4-6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ lb. lean pork loin cut into ¼” small cubes
1 chopped shallot
1 cup daikon radish, julienned
1 cup cut mushrooms
1 cup bamboo shoots
2 cups rough chopped fresh spinach
2 teaspoons dried bonito flakes
1 whole Thai Chile pepper
8 cups low salt, low fat homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
pinch of ground cayenne (to taste)

Hot and Sour Sauce
2 tablespoons low salt soy sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons corn starch
⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup thinly sliced green scallions

Peel and julienne daikon radish, chop mushrooms, scallion and shallots. Rough chop clean spinach leaves and set aside.
In a small bowl, beat eggs lightly.
In a small bowl, mix Hot and Sour Sauce ingredients, blend until corn starch is fully incorporated.

  1. In a 5-6 quart soup pot over medium high heat, add olive oil and brown pork, about 5-7 minutes. Add shallots and continue cooking another 3 minutes until they are soft and start to caramelize.
  2. Deglaze pan with chicken stock, stir and scrape bottom to release cooked bits. Add whole Thai Chile pepper, lemon zest and grated ginger.  Sprinkle in dried bonito flakes and cayenne. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove lid, bring broth up to low boil and add in Hot and Sour Sauce, stir to blend and thicken. Add in vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add beaten egg in slow stream, stir in circles gently with fork. Egg will cook rapidly. Do not over stir or you will break up the eggs and muddy the broth. Remove Thai Chili Pepper and turn off heat.
  5. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with scallion slices.
Cook’s Tips
You can choose to just use egg whites if you want to reduce egg yolks in your diet. Other easy changes to make this vegetarian is to substitute smoked tofu for the pork and vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Good anytime.


  1. Another gorgeous and graceful post...I just love, love the soup images in pretty blue and white bowl and the hellebores, too. These late winter revivers are a delight!

    1. Good Morning Bentobird! I love that little bowl too and couldn't resist the hellebores winter cheer. Your sweet comments raise my spirits, thank you!

  2. This looks lovely, Robin! A soup like this cheers you up just by even looking at your pictures:)

    1. Even better to taste (clears the sinuses -- seriously!) So glad to hear from you P2P Pal!

  3. oh wow I was actualy looking for a hot soure soup. some friend had some a while ago and she was raving about it. If it even clears the sinuses, then I realy have to make it!

    1. Hope you enjoy the soup when you give it a try. Cheers Helene!

  4. Oh, how I needed a bowl of this last week!! Sounds wonderful - and your first paragraph sounds like running the infection gauntlet on the Tube in winter hahaha!


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