Hot and Sour Soup

Springtime is here, not just by the mercury but the produce aisle as well now.  

Yesterday we bought bok choy raab, spring onions, cilantro, and hakurei turnips.  What does that add up to?  If you said hot and sour soup, then you love vinegar as much as I do.  It might not be so heavily associated with light springtime brodos, but hot and sour soup has got it all: a bracing broth, the versatility to accept what the season offers, and a 0-60 of an hour, max.

Here's how it goes in the Keepwell household.  Pick some mushroom stems off of their caps, rough chop a small onion and a couple stalks of celery, and tear a tiny nub off of some ginger root.  Give that pile a quick go-round in the food processor, and sweat the resulting mash in a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil, in a decent-size saucepan.  Once you've worn off the raw edge, the vegetables will stop sweating and start sticking, at which point you can drop 1-2 quarts of water in.  Bring it quickly to a simmer and let it go for about 15 minutes.

Which is the perfect amount of time to get the other half of the recipe going!  Prepare some vegetables, dice up a little tofu, get some nice garnishes together.  You'll saute your mushrooms, spring onions, and any hard vegetables in a little more sesame oil. A quick cooking little cut like pork skirt goes in nicely right here as well - bonus points if you rub that sucker beforehand with gochujang or something similar that will really caramelize in the pan.  

By the time you really get cooking, your broth should have some flavor and be ready for final seasoning.  Then you put the two together and bring it up to a simmer.  Toss in anything green like asparagus in right before you serve.  

HOT AND SOUR SOUP, 4/29/2017

Double fistful of mushrooms (cremini in the picture, whatever you prefer)

1 bunch spring onions

1 bunch hakurei turnips

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 quart mushroom broth, as described above

dash Keepwell Vinegar brand black garlic vinegar

dash Keepwell Vinegar brand Carolina Gold rice vinegar

1 tbsp of your favorite red hot sauce (we use gochujang because we make dope gochujang)

dash soy sauce

1 bunch bok choy raab

4 oz fresh soft tofu, cut up

1 bunch cilantro

Pickled garlic scapes

Chop the white part of the spring onion, the hakurei turnips, and the mushrooms into bite-size pieces, and saute them in the sesame oil over medium heat.  They'll only take a minute to develop some color.  Remember they'll simmer in the broth for a second, so don't overcook them here.  

Season your mushroom broth with the vinegars, hot sauce, and soy sauce until it's lively enough for you, then drop it into a saucepan with your sauteed vegetables and the tofu.  Bring it all up to a simmer together, taste and adjust as needed.  Add the bok choy raab and plate it more or less immediately - it will continue to cook in the hot broth.  

Garnish with a fat handful of cilantro, hastily torn apart, and some pickled garlic scapes.  If your pickle brine from the scapes has any sugar in it, consider leaving it on the table for any guests who want a pinch of sweetness.