Vegetarian hot and sour soup

Vegetarian hot and sour soup


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Thursday, 19 February marks the beginning of The Chinese New Year, a celebration that lasts from the new moon to the Lantern Festival 15 days later.

Much of what I know about Chinese New Year I learned from chatting with Sachiko Saeki, a chef who was Hugh’s sushi tutor on River Cottage, and who frequently hosts regular cooking courses at Demuths Cookery School in Bath.

“To me Chinese New Year is similar to Christmas. It’s a time for family and friends to come together. Cleaning is involved and lots of it - the home, your past, relationships, debts, to face the New Year anew mentally and spiritually.”

In this spirit of renewal and cleansing, I like to mark the Chinese New Year by making this Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup, a bowl of comfort food that keeps the body and soul warm during these last days of winter, but also harkens the coming spring with its fresh flavours and colourful vegetables.

This soup isn’t just for Chinese New Year, it’s really for any time of year you need a nourishing pick-me-up. It’s a very easy soup to make and can be adapted to suit whatever vegetables you have to hand.

  • 140g of noodles, dried wholewheat (or vegetable noodles for a low-carb affair)
  • rapeseed oil, or other neutral oil
  • 2 tbsp of ginger, grated
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of rice wine, preferably Shaohsing
  • 700ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 handful of beansprouts
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 200g of tofu, firm, sliced into strips
  • carrots, courgettes, broccoli, seaweed, mushrooms, or any vegetables of your choice
Cook the noodles according to the packet’s instructions. When finished, rinse under cold running water and drizzle a little oil over them to keep them from sticking together. Divide between two big bowls
In a soup pot, combine the ginger, red chilli, Shaohsing rice wine, vegetable stock, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Bring to a simmer
While the soup simmers, prepare your vegetables. I like to julienne my carrots and courgettes, but feel free to cut them to your preferred size and shape
Add the vegetables to the pot and let it come back to the simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender (any quick-cooking vegetables, especially greens, should be added at the very end so they don’t overcook)
Stir in the bean sprouts, most of the spring onions and the tofu. Ladle the soup over the noodles. Serve garnished with spring onions
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