Life with a Side of Hot & Sour Soup
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” - Eleanor Roosevelt.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, it’s really all I could do after surgery. Most of my thoughts start with, “When I get better…” and “As soon as I can stand up again…”. Isn’t it funny how being at your lowest can be the most motivating to actually live your life?
This entire week has been a significant milestone in my life; from the terrifying moment the surgeon began drawing his lengthy incision line across my throat, to being strapped on to the surgery bed, like an extra in an X-File. Coming out of the surgery, I had a bad reaction to the type of anesthetic used and the pain that came with that was, um, let’s just say “gut-busting”, and then there’s the prescribed medications following surgery. These pills have worn me down, making me feel intense nausea at all hours of the day, and have made it nearly impossible to function. This whole experience has made me the weakest (physically) that I have ever been.
Now, seven days since surgery, I’m sitting upright, typing on my laptop, and wondering, “Where do I go from here?”. I guess I could just fully recover and resume life as it was, but that just doesn’t seem good enough anymore. I feel really lucky for the early detection of these abnormal cells developing on my thyroid. With the gland now extracted, (tests pending) I could be past the most intense portion of my battle with Cancer. There are many in this world that are not so lucky. I want to celebrate my good fortune and be the happiest I can be. I’m very fortunate for my family, and my relationships, but there is work to be done with my health, my self, and my ambitions. For today, while I work it all out, I’ll take comfort in a bowl of soup.
I haven’t had much of an appetite this past week, but I have been thinking a lot about Hot & Sour Soup. There is something very comforting and almost cleansing about a great bowl of Hot & Sour Soup. Traditionally a Chinese recipe, ingredients range depending on the region, but most often including a meat-based broth, bamboo shoots, tofu, wood ears (“black fungus”), heat of chili spice(s) and the sour flavors of soy and vinegar. For my homemade version, I wanted to create something that didn’t require a full afternoon of simmering and that everyone I know could easily create and enjoy for themselves.
Vegan Hot & Sour Soup
A Hot Pink Apron comfort food classic
- 1 cup dried portobello or porcini mushrooms (If you’re having difficulty finding dried mushrooms at your grocery store, be sure to ask. I’ve discovered each store stocks these differently.)
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 can Chinese bamboo shoots (optional)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 (8 ounce) container firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch strips
- 4 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce (depending on how much spice you want to add)
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1 cup fresh, local cremini mushrooms, sliced diagonally
- 1 cup chopped local kale leaves, small pieces (optional)
Note: Most dried mushrooms will work in this recipe but I personally enjoyed the subtle flavour and soft texture of the dried portobello. Dried shiitake mushrooms were far too chewy and cardboard-ey for me. If you’re an adventurous mushroom fan, this is a great recipe to play with a variety of dried and fresh types.
- In a small bowl, place your dried mushrooms in 1 1/2 cups of freshly boiled hot water. Soak 20 minutes, until re-hydrated.
- In a second small bowl, blend soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Place 1/2 the tofu strips into the mixture and stir.
- In a medium-large soup pot, mix the re-hydrated mushrooms (with the hot water-broth) with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add cornstarch/tofu mixture (step 2) and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes, black pepper, and white pepper.
- Mix remaining cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup of water well so there are no lumps. Stir into the broth mixture until thickened.
- Mix remaining tofu, and kale into the pot. Return to boil, and stir in the bamboo shoots, sriracha chili sauce, and sesame oil. Garnish with green onion to serve.
I don’t know exactly what the answers to all of the big questions I’ve been asking are, but I do know that I am very grateful for great bowls of homemade soup and this blog while I figure it all out. Enjoy! xoAdd to favorites