A winter treat: Scrumptious Szechuan hot and sour soup
I love soup at any time of the year, but in winter, it’s a wonderful treat on chilly days. Nothing is more satisfying than a hearty bowl of soup when you need to be warm and nourished. But the question is what kind of soup?
In general, we all go for quick, time saving, ready-to-cook canned food options. This is a cop-out.
Real soup is scrumptious and tantalising. It nourishes both your body and mind, provides added health benefits and helps to ward off the cold or flu.
I personally love the recipe of my homemade “Szechuan hot and sour soup”. Originating from Szechuan province of China, Szechuan cuisine is generally pretty spicy, sour, strong, hot, sweet, vinegary and aromatic.
This soup is made from a variety of ingredients, such as bamboo shoots, mushrooms, chicken, tofu, egg, carrots and peppers. These healthy components not only provide a wealth of flavour, but also carbohydrates, proteins, fats, a lot of minerals and vitamins.
The soup has an appealing smooth yet crunchy texture and a slightly thickened, velvety consistency. Overall, it looks rich and is bold in flavour.
Best of all, the recipe does not require hours of work in kitchen – all it demands are a few simple steps in its preparation.
Reduce the amount of seasoning and peppers if you like, but for the full effect, I recommend using all the suggested spices.
Here’s what you’ll need:
6 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of boneless chicken cubes
Carrots, julienned 1/2 cup
Bamboo shoots, julienned 1/2 cup
Button mushrooms thinly sliced 1/2 cup
Spring onion chopped 1/2 cup
2 green chillies, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
Cilantro (coriander leaves) chopped 1/2 cup
Tofu cubes,1/2 cup (optional)
1 beaten egg
Soya sauce 4 tbsp
Chilli sauce 2 tbsp
Hot sauce 2 tsp
White vinegar 4 tbsp
Sugar 1 tsp, heaped
Chili oil 1 tsp
White pepper powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cornstarch 4 tbsp, dissolved in 4-5 tbsp of water
Heat chicken stock in a large pot.
Add chicken and cook for eight minutes.
Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrots. Reduce flame and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add green chillies, red pepper and green onion. Stir well.
Add all the seasoning except cornstarch. Stir well and simmer for five minutes.
Now add cornstarch (dissolved in water) until consistency is slightly thicker. Stir continuously.
Lastly add beaten egg into the soup.
Garnish with chopped green onion and cilantro.
You can use chicken cubes instead of chicken stock. Keep in mind that instant stock chicken cubes contain salt, so you don’t need to add extra salt. At the end, taste the soup and than add salt according to your taste.
You can use dried shiitake mushrooms instead of button mushrooms. Soak them in warm water for 20 minutes, remove the stems and cut into thin slices.
Instead of chili oil, you can use sesame oil.
Enjoy your hot bowl of delicious looking soup! Its taste does justice to the way it looks.
Happy winter and happy cooking!
PHOTOS: TANVEER KHADIM
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.