Hot and sour soup closes out a dark and cold winter, photographed on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Hot and sour soup closes out a dark and cold winter, photographed on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Hot and sour soup to close out winter

As the sun stays up longer, and the ice in our yard melts away, I’m also assessing our pantry.

The temperature reached 61 degrees in Anchorage yesterday, and the state climatologist posted on Twitter that winter is officially behind us.

I’m always excited for spring. Growing up, April brought more sunshine, melted snow and it signaled the end of the long school year.

This year though, spring is more welcomed than ever. For many people, the last year has come with loss and grief of all kinds, and it feels like we’re only just now coming out of that darkness, and seeing the spring light at the end of the tunnel. I’m fully vaccinated, and have summer clothes out and ready to go.

I feel hopeful for this summer, and energized to do things outside with all of the friends and family I’ve been missing for so long.

As the sun stays up longer, and the ice in our yard melts away, I’m also assessing our pantry. We have so much boxed broth and stock, which is great to have on hand for quick soups to warm up with. So my goal with this week’s column is to rid my pantry of some of our stock and broth, while also cleaning out some other pantry staples, as well as some of the veggies in our fridge. I also wanted to make soup before it got too hot to enjoy it.

This is a hot and sour soup recipe, and you can change the amounts of the spicy and sour flavorings to make the soup exactly to your tastes. I started making this in college because it’s pretty easy and it felt very comforting.

I love Americanized Chinese food, and this is sort of a classic that can be easily replicated at home. My favorite part is how thick the soup is, made possible by the cornstarch slurry. I also love the egg ribbons, they are delicate and add a nice touch to a bowl of hot soup.

Feel free to add your favorite veggies and proteins to this soup. This is usually what I have around and is a good base for riffing on, and making your own version.

Hot and sour soup

8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

8 ounces mushrooms, baby bell or whatever you have around will work (I’m using fried morels picked from the Swan Lake fire burn area.)

¼ cup rice vinegar, or more to taste

¼ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

¼ cup cornstarch

3 large eggs, whisked

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes (You can also use chicken or whatever protein you have around and want to use.)

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Reserve 1⁄4 cup of the stock or broth, and whisk in the cornstarch until you have a slurry mixture. Set aside for later use.

Bring a pot to the stove and heat on medium-high. Add in the broth or stock, mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili garlic sauce and cook until the soup reaches a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and continue cooking for about a minute, or until the soup thickens.

Slowly drizzle in the whisked eggs into the soup, while slowly stirring the soup. The thinner the stream, the more egg ribbons you’ll have in your soup. Next, season the soup to your tastes, and garnish with extra chopped green onions.

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